Yesterday, I found myself on a one-day business trip to Oakland. This is a day-trip with which I am intimately familiar, as I did it every 4-6 weeks for a former employer. Back in the saddle again, I joined the commuter crowd at John Wayne airport at 5:45 a.m. and made my way to the Southwest flight. In Oakland, I hopped on the rental car shuttle bus with about 100 of my closest friends. After a morning of productive meetings, I found myself with about 2 hours before I needed to be back at the airport, so I took the opportunity to make a return visit to The English Rose Tea Room in Pleasanton, California.
The quaint, traditional tea room is just off the main drag of historic downtown Pleasanton and is a picture of shabby chic. Lisa greeted me warmly as I entered and gave me my pick of tables. I chose an overstuffed chair off to the side, and Laura took over, offering me a sample of their apricot tea and a gingersnap. The tea list was pleasantly lengthy, and Laura was happy to give recommendations and opinions. I was tempted by the Wild Cherry, but when I mentioned I was not a fan of overly fruity teas, she gently suggested some other potentially palatable options.
In the end, I lapsed into my comfort zone and chose a French Breakfast blend. I was beginning to wane after my 4:15 wake up call, so a hearty cuppa was just the ticket.My tea arrived, and with it was a smaller pot of the Wild Cherry. “I felt bad,” Laura confessed, “because I feel like I talked you out of your original choice.” I tasted the Wild Cherry, and let her know immediately that she had been right. It was very-cherry and left that fruity after taste that I do not care for. The fact that she presented the option was really impressive, and the true cherry on top for me was the fact they had a sugar bowl with sugar cubes!!! An immediate gold star in my book.
I ordered the Duchess Anna menu, and was delighted at the beautiful tiered serving tray that was presented. A scone, fluted cup of dried fruit, an orange slice and red rose sat on top. Below were the requisite cucumber mint sandwich and egg salad sandwich. A new addition to the winter menu were a corn and rice salad in puff pastry, a open-faced pimento and cheese sandwich and a twist on bruschetta: Monterey jack, tomato and apricot atop the crusty bread. Barbara, the tea room’s chef, came out to say hello and see how I was enjoying everything. It was such a hospitable environment, I felt like a visiting dignitary. But it quickly became apparent that there was nothing unusual about this treatment. I saw it displayed again and again not only with customers dropping in, but also on the phone. Everyone was greeted with enthusiasm, and the message is clear: All are welcome here.
Lisa makes no bones about the fact that this is a faith-based venture, as proclaimed by a sign in front that reads, “Prayer available here.” Verses and encouraging sayings are tucked into every corner and adorn many of the beautiful decorative items available for sale. And yet, there is nothing off-putting about this. As open as the message is, it’s not shoved down your throat. It’s an honest example of women being exactly who they are. These are Christian women ready to serve you a beautiful afternoon tea, and allow you to be exactly who you are. It was refreshing in many ways. And to top off the lovely experience, I was sent on my way with a to-go cup of tea for my drive to the airport!
So, despite an early morning, a flat tire on arrival at the airport parking lot, crowded airplanes and shuttle buses, I arrived home feeling light and comfortable. Thank you for the delicious tea, the scrumptious food, and the warm hospitality. You can be sure, I’ll be back!
The English Rose Tea Room and Gifts
163 West Neal Street
Pleasanton, CA 94566
Open 11 AM to 5 PM Tuesday – Saturday
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