Review: It's Tea Timeby Megan Walker, contributing writer
My family and I are all Disneyland Annual Passholders, and while we aren't Southern California locals, we try to visit the Disneyland Resort as often as possible. Every time we go, I try to find something new or different for us to experience, so we have a new tradition for future Disneyland visits. On our most recent visit, my family and I went to Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel to experience their Classic Afternoon Tea and ended up having a fantastic time.
We happened to be visiting during Halloween Time, and the restaurant was offering a specially themed Halloween tea, so reservations were a bit harder to secure than would have been for a normal day. I booked our reservations about 30 days in advance for a 12:30 p.m. seating time, just in time for an afternoon treat.
We wandered down to the Disneyland Hotel after a morning in the parks and headed for Steakhouse 55. With the morning rush gone from Goofy's Kitchen, and the lunch hour everywhere else just beginning, the hotel was pretty quiet and helped set the mood and ambience for an "afternoon tea." The hosts at the desk checked us in pretty quickly and we sat down on the couches in the waiting area. Before too long, a hostess came out to get us and showed us back into the dining area to a nice, roomy booth.
If you've never dined at Steakhouse 55, I highly recommend it, whether for breakfast, afternoon tea, or dinner; the ambience alone is well worth a visit, and the restaurant has the air of an old-Hollywood dining room: dark, quiet, and surrounded by photos of celebrities from another time. The food at Steakhouse 55 is also incredible, but that's a different story for another time.
Once we were seated, it wasn't long before our server came over to take our order. There are three different "tea party" options: the Classic Tea Party (which includes scones, sandwiches, desserts, and your tea); the Premium Tea Party (which includes sparkling wine, scones, a salad, sandwiches, desserts, a box of truffles, and your tea); and, for the little ones, a Kids Tea Party (which includes scones, sandwiches, desserts, and a drink). The differences between the Classic and the Premium tea party are simple: the Premium includes a glass of sparkling wine and a salad at the beginning, and a box of two "farewell truffles" at the end of your tea.
We went all-out and decided to do the Premium Tea Party, especially since the sparkling wine they serve is the Iron Horse Fairy Tale Cuvee, which is one of our favorites. Once we told our server which "party" we planned on doing, he began to go over the tea list, which was quite extensive. The servers here all seemed incredibly knowledgeable about the different types of tea, their health benefits, taste, and anything else you could possibly want to know about tea. It was very helpful to have this knowledge and helped all of us make our choice of tea.
After we picked out our tea selection, we sat back to wait. The atmosphere in the restaurant was perfect for a "classic afternoon tea"; though there were quite a few other guests, the volume in the restaurant was pretty low and the overall mood was incredibly mellow. Sitting down for tea here made for a perfect break from the hustle and bustle of the parks. We didn't have to wait too long before our server brought over our salads, glasses of sparkling wine, and our tea, perfectly steeped and ready to drink. Our server discussed each item in great detail, letting us know all that was included in the salad, and about the sparkling wine and the winery behind it. There was a great attention to detail at every course, and it was superb customer service throughout.
After the salad and sparkling wine (if you choose the Classic Party you would skip ahead to the next part), was our main course: a multi-tiered tray full of treats and tasty items. Again our server went into great detail about each item so we knew exactly what we were about to enjoy.
On the top tier were the scones; there was one scone per person (but we did request a chocolate-chip Mickey Mouse-shaped scone from the kids menu), and the scones came with a selection of lemon curd, clotted cream, and a seasonally flavored jam to spread on it.
The second tier held the sandwiches, there were four different tea sandwiches ranging in flavors. One thing to note that on our tray, we requested to swap out the smoked salmon sandwich, since no one in our group was big fans of smoked salmon. This is important to note because if you see something on the menu you're not thrilled about, just let your server know and they'll let you choose just about anything else to trade for it.
You'll notice that in this particular afternoon tea, being that it was a Halloween-themed party, the sandwiches were decorated in a fun Halloween style as well. Finally, the bottom tier held the sweets, which included chocolate-dipped strawberries, mini bundt cakes, and a selection of macarons. A fun thing here is that the restaurant has a selection of many different macarons, so it's likely you'd get a different flavored macaron each time you visit.
Everything tasted delicious, and, although it might seem like small selections, we all ended up being pretty full, which turned our tea into a very good "lunch." Once we had finished eating, our server returned and asked if we would like another pot of tea. You can have as much tea as you can drink here, and you not only change what kind of tea you have with each round, you can even switch from hot to iced if you choose. Our server recommended some nice "after meal" teas (of which I chose peppermint), which were a perfect suggestion.
As we headed out of the restaurant after we finished tea, everyone agreed it had been a fantastic afternoon tea. The ambience was relaxing and very fun, the service was phenomenal, the tea was tasty, and the food offerings were delicious; we had absolutely no complaints. Obviously, this experience isn't for everyone…I imagine it will seem more attractive to locals as it does take quite a bit of time out of your park time —overall, we spent about two hours at the restaurant. However, I think that absolutely anyone would enjoy this experience, especially during the holidays (they have offered seasonally themed teas around Mother's Day, Halloween, and Christmas in the past). I know that I will definitely do this tea again, it was a lot of fun and it was a nice break from the park.
Have you enjoyed the Classic Afternoon Tea at the Disneyland Hotel? If not, make sure you make a reservation and experience it for yourself.