Delightful atmosphere, goodies, and service make a trip to Bloomsbury Tea Room memorable
It seemed an appropriate venue for a reunion of two beautiful young women who first met in daycare two decades ago. For the first time, my daughter had missed a Santa Cruz Christmas due to obligations in the county swathed in Dodger Blue. Finally able to sneak north, we got fancy and headed to Capitola's Bloomsbury Tea Room.
Open just three days each week, reservations are a necessity. We were ushered into one of the three parlors, warm and cozy by the furnace, with a view of the landscaped patio. As our friend noted, the room was a convergence of Britain, France and Alice in Wonderland. Mason jars of gumdrops and candy canes danced above our heads, a chandelier draped with Mardi Gras beads lit the adjacent table, and the cabinet of colorful china teacups was topped with a pink flamingo and the Mad Hatter's cap.
The glass-topped lace tablecloth was set with apricot roses, paper placemats, cloth napkins and elegant sterling and silver-plated utensils.
There are 21 teas to choose from including hearty spiced plum herbal tea, organic green tea with gingko and citrus, white-vanilla-grapefruit, and hot cinnamon-spice with orange peel and cloves.
The experience ranges from simple to extravagant. Order an à la carte pot of tea ($4/$6), tea sandwiches ($1.50 or three for $4), warm scones ($4), soup ($3/$5) or a salad ($4).
Also available are several combinations from Light Tea ($12) to the Victorian High Tea ($26). We ordered the latter, which began with the first of three teas, a sweet, spiced chai latte.
Then came the salad of the day, with greens and soft butter lettuce, avocado, feta, candied pecans, fresh raspberries and a small savory herbed biscuit.
We had moved on to the Paris tea, scented with vanilla and flavored with fruit and citrus when the triple-tier tower of savories, scones and sweets was served.
The creamy crab and mushroom quiche was cooked in demitasse teacups. Puff pastry was stuffed with curried chicken salad, and half of a small croissant held thinly sliced roast beef, Havarti cheese and sweet peach chutney. Nicely flavored brie was baked in a flaky phyllo dough shell with bits of cranberry and nuts.
We each had two scones, one was lavender-flavored with a drizzle of icing, the other vanilla, served with a purée of fresh strawberries, thick, sweetened Devonshire clotted cream, and lemon curd like the smooth filling of lemon meringue pie.
When it came time for the sweets, we switched to a lovely pink strawberry-kiwi tea which nicely supplemented fresh berries, chocolate chip-studded coffee cake, an airy cylinder of chocolate mousse on a sugary cookie crumb base, drizzled with chocolate syrup, and topped with raspberry jam and a fresh berry. A tiny yellow cake was topped with rich buttercream frosting and toasted coconut.
Bloomsbury Tea Room, 911 Capitola Ave. # B, Capitola, 477-1798. Open Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Reservations strongly recommended.