When I discovered The Rotunda, I was interested to see how Neiman Marcus – San Francisco would interpret their version of afternoon tea. Prior to my arrival, I attempted to do research on the history of The Rotunda and its architecture, but came up with negative results forcing me to go into my reservation blindly.
Shortly after my arrival, I was escorted to a private booth with a spectacular view of the atrium. I will admit that I was a little hesitant in dining here, because I was worried that the noise from the shoppers would echo into The Rotunda. However, the privacy of the booth allowed my guests and I to continue our intimate conversations without having to be disturbed by the external noise.
The menu consisted of four (4) tea sandwiches, two (2) freshly baked scones with Devonshire cream and fruit serves along with four (4) petite sweets. Three (3) options of afternoon tea were available.
- Signature Tea Service: The menu + choice of Dammann Frères tea = $45
- Grand Tea Service: The menu + choice of Dammann Frères tea + a glass of Gloria Ferrer Private Cuvée Brut NV = $55
- Royal Tea Service: The menu + choice of Dammann Frères tea + a glass of Étoile Brut Rosé NV = $60
(Ordering off the menu was optional if you wanted to partake in high tea. The discussion about the differences between afternoon tea and high tea will be saved for a later time.)
I was presented with a complimentary popover with strawberry butter, and a chicken consommé as an appetizer. Personally, I could have done without the popover, but the chicken consommé was great as it was absolutely flavorful. Since my reservation was towards the late afternoon, I decided to order off the menu in addition to the Signature Tea Service.
Shortly after the appetizers, the waitress arrived with a three-tiered stand and its essentials. The scones (traditional and cranberry) were placed at the bottom tier, while the second tier consisted of the mini sandwiches (chicken salad sandwich, crab roll, cucumber canapé and an egg croissant). The placement of the sandwiches and the scones should have been switched. The only correct placement was the petite fours as they were placed at the very top of the stand.
The scones were wonderful and broke in half perfectly. The Devonshire cream was absolutely superb along with the strawberry preserves and the lemon curd. The crab roll and the egg croissant were also divine, but that’s as far as it went. Having to sit underneath such a stunning atrium at the established Neiman Marcus with sandwiches and desserts that looked – to be frank – store bought was a let down.
There were endless amount of possibilities for presentation, and none were truly executed by the Chefs. Unfortunately, I left The Rotunda truly unimpressed by the lack of creativity for their afternoon tea service.