The Samovar Tea Lounge interior: not just another Starbucks. [Photo: bjcolors]
Four years ago, the original Samovar Tea Lounge brought high tea service to the Dolores Park neighborhood. Its success in pairing traditional teas from around the world with gourmet food items soon spawned a second branch in what Patricia Unterman calls "an irresistible location": a onetime Starbucks space, perched high on the upper terrace of the Yerba Buena Gardens.
The location of the second branch of the Samovar Tea Lounge is enough to make it memorable; add the rituals of a thoughtful and sophisticated tea service, and you've got yourself a relaxing afternoon:
Tea service, whether traditional Japanese, Chinese, English or San Francisco eclectic, affords respite and relaxation. The ritual of brewing and sipping tea and having it with special foods confers a degree of civility and refreshment to the moment. I certainly felt this at Samovar, where every detail of the tea ritual had been affectionately and creatively addressed in signature tea service meals.After sampling the Chinese, Moorish and namesake Russian tea services (all in the $15-$20 range), Unterman basically acknowledges the "indifferently executed" food, but praises the whole of the tea service as being far superior to the sum of its parts. [Examiner]