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Modern San Francisco tea salon a treat

If you need a break from your heavy course load, I recommend heading to Crown & Crumpet, a tea salon tucked away in San Francisco hot-spot Ghirardelli Square.

With everything from open-faced crumpet sandwiches to potatoes with avocado and cheddar, Crown & Crumpet is a great place to gather with friends over a nice meal and a hot pot of tea.

The busy tearoom gives customers a choice of teas, sandwiches and treats. (Stephanie Scerra)

You don’t need to dress up to appreciate the tasty teas and delectable cuisine, not to mention the decor. No other tea room I know of so successfully combines Victorian elegance with modern flair.

“I was always obsessed with the English thing,” co-owner and native San Franciscan Amy Dean told me over a warm scone with clotted cream and a cup of Crown & Crumpet’s private blend, brewed exclusively in the United Kingdom. “Even before I lived in London, I was always going to tea parties.”

Why, then, does Crown & Crumpet feature polka-dotted lampshades, hot pink floor tiles and a televised fire in the fireplace?

“[My husband and I] wanted to get the formula right,” Dean said. “We wanted to open a tea room in the U.S. that was traditional but not stuffy like the Americanized tea rooms with cats all over their teapots. We wanted to create an aesthetically-pleasing tea experience that mixed the old with the new.”

Thus the Deans used 18th century furniture sparingly and refused to put a single piece of mismatched china on the table. Even the tea room’s name caters to the quirky, modern look.

“We wanted something cheeky,” Dean said, “so we chose a play on words. ‘Crumpet’ is British slang for a cute, little girlfriend while ‘Crown,’ of course, refers to the King.”

Crown & Crumpet offers a traditional afternoon tea. (Stephanie Scerra)

Regardless of whether or not people get the humor behind the name, Dean says customers of all walks of life fill up the vibrantly-colored cushioned chairs of Crown & Crumpet fast.

“We get everyone from three to 95 years old because so many people love the ritual of tea,” Dean said. “We get old couples, we get mothers and daughters, we get girls celebrating their 21st birthdays… Everybody is welcome as long as a table is open.”

Crown & Crumpet features 38 types of tea, including popular blends like Paris, a black tea infused with bergamot and vanilla; Strawberry Fields, a Japanese green tea with sweet strawberry chips; and Blue Eyes, an herbal blend of hibiscus, rose hips, orange and apple. The tea salon also includes four different menus – breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and evening – so that you can have tea time anywhere between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. on weekends.

Dean recommends that college students bring their significant others to afternoon tea for “Tea for Two,” which provides eight tea sandwiches, four house-made scones, two toasted crumpets and two large pots of tea for $21 per person, which is decidedly pricey, one of the restaurant’s downfalls.

Crown & Crumpet also offers many “Trolley Dolly” tea options in which you can order whatever you please, including tea with a slice of house-made cake for $8.50 or tea with eight assorted sweets and treats for $12.

In addition, Crown & Crumpet offers more than its tea room. The boutique, located downstairs, stocks everything from scented cupcake cards to Alice in Wonderland tea sets.

Starting Feb. 22, Mills students can get 10 percent off their purchases from the tearoom and a surprise if they show their Mills ID. Just be sure to call ahead so that your surprise will be ready. The salon’s phone number is (415) 771-4252.

Crown & Crumpet is located at 207 Ghirardelli Square, 900 North Point San Francisco, a tourist area conveniently accessible by both public transit and car.

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