Friday, October 2, 2009

Afternoon Tea

I thought our afternoon tea experience last weekend was a good one to attempt a Zagat-esq review for.

It is this cute little French creperie in the Chicago suburbs called Suzette's Creperie. We have always liked their food and desserts so far but afternoon tea that afternoon was, well, close to a disaster, for me anyway who likes every meal to be a celebration.

Yes I am picky, sue me.

Now this restaurant has a bakery section, charming area with a couple tables and a display case of baked goodies. Separated by a foyer is the main dining area, lot more formal.

For some reason or another (mostly that they are tres tres busy all the time), we have almost always been seated in the bakery section on our visits there. This suits us fine for we eat there with our four year old who, though a veteran of restaurants of varying star levels in four countries, is still, well, a four year old.

So to my slight chagrin (since I had made my booking for tea over two weeks ago) we were seated in the bakery section again. Wouldn't have been a big problem if it was one of their tables by the window but this time the restaurant was a trifle too ambitious. They had an extra table squeezed right next to the display cases, kissing distance from the cases actually so we spent the hour or so we were there aglow in its tube-lit glory.

Again I wouldn't have minded quite so much (I am nothing if not flexible) but the restroom was few feet away from our table and the way it was positioned, a visitor to the restroom would have to really squeeze themselves beside us to get there. And they did. This started as a mild irritation and soon became intolerable since now and again, an apologetic restaurant patron (I don't blame them at all) would come by our table and squeeze themselves in the two inches that remained between our table and a cupboard nearby in order to get to the restroom. Shaking table each time of people going back and forth, feeling like one is in a railway station waiting room. Not pleasant. And certainly not conducive to a relaxing afternoon tea.

Perhaps because of the undesirability of our location I had to ask the waitress leaning across their display cases each time, to please re-fill my tea--something they are supposed to do at regular basis at an afternoon tea. Also flabbergasting was that we had a choice of two teas. Earl Grey and some Lavender Herbal number. Two teas!!? I expected a menu of gourmet teas, each one more exotic and desirable than the next. It is afternoon TEA, remember people? Oh yes, and all this for a whopping 30$ per person. Not worth it at all. To be fair the sandwiches were nice, the desserts too. The highlight were the scones course which made the trip sort of worthwhile.

Needless to say we won't be frequenting Suzette's again for afternoon tea. At the risk of sounding like a food snob (which I regrettably am), I think we shall stick to regular afternoon teas in India where it is an age old tradition.

Or in say, Orangerie, opposite Kensington Palace in London where the clotted cream alone sells the whole experience and the teas are to die for. And of course in that place I consider pastry heaven, Laduree, in Paris where the pastries and teas are so sublime that one doesn't mind the snooty servers or having to yell monsieur, monsieur, until one is blue in the face in order to get someone's attention.