Tea party. Two words that bring to mind prim and proper ladies looking down their noses at the great unwashed masses. It wasn't until recently that I realized there's actual pleasure in afternoon tea.
My girl heard about a place in Alpine that puts on Victorian-style tea parties-Cobblestone Cottage. They not only throw an excellent tea party, but they also provide gloves, wraps, hats, boas and costume jewelry that you are welcome to don to liven up your tea-partying. Strangely, none of the men in attendance during our visit were so inclined, except for one hipster guy who no doubt found his hat to be a fetchingly ironic fashion accessory.
In addition to costumes, Cobblestone Cottage's whimsical vibe is greatly enhanced by its location-the building is ornamented with miniature gables and antique glass windows from Germany, resulting in a kind of Brothers Grimm fairytale appearance. There is both indoor and outdoor seating, the latter in a courtyard and garden where the sound of bubbling fountains creates a relaxing atmosphere.
Cobblestone Cottage offers three types of tea parties. We opted for High Tea, choosing a pot of Celebration, a black tea flavored with mint, citrus, cinnamon, clove and rose petal, and a pot of apricot-flavored rooibos, an African herbal tea.
Brought to the table in pretty china teapots, the tea is served fully steeped, and kept warm on antique silver tea warmers. Stirring some sugar and a small amount of milk into my cup of Celebration, I felt quite Victorian indeed.
After we'd had some time to enjoy our first cup, a three-tiered tray was brought to the table decorated with fresh flowers and piled with two scones, fresh fruit and tea sandwiches. Cut into fancy shapes, the sandwiches consisted of cucumber with radish and cream cheese, chopped ham with cream cheese, mini croissants filled with chicken curry salad and Cottage Pastrami-a kind of pastrami salad.
The sandwiches were excellent, but the scones were something special. Incredibly buttery and light, they really put those leaden mounds served elsewhere to shame. Served with house-made Devonshire cream, house-made lemon curd and preserves, gilding the lily is encouraged.
After we'd had some time to work our way through these goodies, yet another tray was brought to the table (only two-tiered, thankfully) laden with banana bread and quiche Lorraine-both made on the premises and both delicious.
Finally, as if that weren't enough food, dessert was served. Given the option of replenishing our teapot with a different kind of tea, we opted for the New Zealand Sunny Slopes, made strictly from dried fruit like kiwi, strawberry and citrus peel. It was the perfect accompaniment to the chocolate chocolate-chip bundt cake.While you might not consider the $16 price tag for the High Tea cheap, it's actually a considerable bargain compared to other afternoon teas in San Diego. If all you're after is tea and scones, however, that can be had for $7 per person. Due to the length of the tea service, Cobblestone Cottage does recommend making reservations. They are open Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.