Sunday, December 31, 2006

Sweet Divas Cottage Bistro (Brea) - LA-OC Foodie's Report

Being a fan of high teas in general (which usually consitute a meal with their carb-loaded scones, finger sandwiches and desserts,) I was intrigued by Sweet Divas' offerings, despite their very amateurish Website. But, from previous outings, professional Web pages do not necessarily translate into a quality dining experiences, so what the heck. And, wanting to warm up from the December chill and with my usual craving for sweets, off to cottage bistro I went.

Sweet Divas started out as a cake & pastries catering business, but soon moved into their current cottage location (situated on Imperial Highway, between the cookiecutter Brea Mall and the redeveloping downtown Brea.) While they do also serve sunday brunches and dinners, their most famous offerings are their various afternoon teas.

I arrived upon a nearly full dining area, with women of all ages in celebration or conversation. The interior of the cottage is comforting, warm/neutral tones and Christmas trimmings and lights, along with a few antiques and teahouse-appropriate artifacts (paintings, fine china, etc.)

The table setting looked adequate . . .
and functional ~ the only thing I found particularly pretty were the colored sugar-crystals for my tea.

With only 2 servers hustling about the dining floor (of about 12 tables, though some were configurated for large party,) it was a little while before my order was taken. I didn't mind, gave me a chance to take in the vibe of the place and decide upon my selection - which turned out to be "Mrs. Claus' Tea", a variant from their "Lady James' Tea" from their regular menu - I presume. So that's what Santa's wife does while he's away sneaking down chimneys . . .

While they have a variety of high tea arrangements available (including ones with salads, special baked desserts & even a warm chocolate fondue), once the selection is made everything else is fairly structured (i.e. you only choose the tea you want, everything else is prix-fixe.) Their tea selection is fairly large (about 40) ranging from the traditional English Breakfast to fun flavored concoctions like Chocolate Covered Strawberries, along with some herbal and rooibos choices for the caffeine-sensitive. I decided to go for the "White Peach," since it's rare for me to find white teas served anywhere.

And that turns out to be a mistake, the white tea was improperly steeped and over flavored. Unlike other teas, which takes 3-5 minutes, white tea really should take no longer than one minute to steep ~ lest its delicate nutty flavor gets ruined by bitterness, which is the case here (I opened my teapot to find the buds still in there.) It was also overpowered by the artifical-tasting peach flavor.
In spite of the bad tea (which I tried to compensate, to no avail, by oversugaring,) I did enjoy the scones served: vanilla-sugar (pictured) and cinnamon-spice. Warm, fluffy, slightly sweet and absolutely delicious with the marionberry jam & double cream. Maybe a little too soft for spreading since crumbs kept falling left and right, but overall heavenly.

Soon after my scones, and basically chugging the first cup of tea, I was served the tier of tea sandwiches & tea sweets on frosted glass plates.
I started off with the savories, which included a chicken salad sandwich on wheat bread, egg salad sandwich on potato bread & a vegetarian quiche. The two sandwiches are tasty, well-seasoned and with just enough mayo - albeit a bit smaller compared to other finger sandwiches I've had in the past. The quiche was ok overall, a bit too salty for my preferences - but a good cheddary flavor going on, which paired well with the veggies that I can best ID as spinach or broccoli but can't be sure of.
Next, the sweets plate, bite-sized version of caramel-apple bar, chocolate-pecan pie and red velvet cupcake. All were as yummy as I expected, not too sweet, and portioned just right (one-two bites) so my palate didn't get bored & my conscious guilty. The cupcake was topped with the cutest candy wreath that I didn't capture in the above pic, so here . . .
Finishing off the tea was a freshly baked, piping hot Apple Cobbler. Again, wonderful - thinly-sliced, spiced tart apples topped with a crunchy yet substantial crust which tasted a lot like the scones--wouldn't be surprised if it's the same dough. The crust-to-filling ratio was slightly off (wished for more of the latter) but again, a yummy treat.
And so concludes my experience at Sweet Divas, as good as all the food is, I still can't get over how absolutely awful the tea tasted, though that could've been food-karma nipping me in the butt for going for something adventurous. Maybe next time I'll opt for something more conservative -- though not anywhere in the near future, as there are a few more tea rooms I've set my eyes on.

The Bill:
Mrs. Claus' Tea & pre-tax/tip total: 18.95

The Rating:
Ambience - 3/5 (comfortable and functional, but nothing particularly special)
Value - 2/5 (portions are comparatively small to the other similarly-priced high teas I've had)
Service - 7.5/10 (adequate - a bit slow but the servers were swamped with a full floor)
Food - 14/20 (food was overall good & the score would be substantially higher if not for the nasty tea)
Bonus/demerits - no points deducted, but a demerit worth noting for a bad (and possibly confusing) Web site!
Total Rating - 26.5/40 (have mixed feelings about returning, again, due to generally good tasting, but small-portioned, foods and, did I mention this before?, really bad tea.)

Other Notes:
~ Reservations highly recommended, this place is often fully booked - you can do this via their Website, through phone, or on Opentable.
~ Parking on adjacent streets are fairly easy to find.
~ They also sell cookies / sweets to go, and have special event menus available for baby showers, bridal parties, etc.

Sweet Divas Cottage Bistro & Patisserie
518 E. Imperial Hwy.
Brea, CA 92821

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Comments on "Sweet Divas Cottage Bistro (Brea) - LA-OC Foodie's Report"

Anonymous Alice said ... (January 1, 2007 at 6:13 PM) : 

Thanks for reviewing this tea room! I've been curious about it but wasn't sure if I should go. Looking forward to your future tea room reviews. :)

Happy New Year!

Blogger The Bill said ... (January 2, 2007 at 11:38 AM) : 

So is this a lady only establishment? ;-)

Blogger H. C. said ... (January 3, 2007 at 9:23 AM) : 

Alice: know any other tea rooms in the OC worth checking out? I'm more familiar with the ones in LA County

Bill: Ha! More or less (there was a father & son who came by to pick stuff up to go) ~ but I have male friends who won't let this stop 'em from a cup 'o tea. ;)

Blogger Chubbypanda said ... (January 3, 2007 at 11:12 AM) : 


I love tea rooms. Rock on!

- Chubbypanda

Anonymous Alice said ... (January 5, 2007 at 9:34 AM) : 


To be honest, I've only been to the Huntington Library's Rose Garden room. (about 12 years ago!)

My next OC room that I'm interested in is Tea & Tea Cups in Yorba Linda.

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (August 4, 2008 at 12:00 AM) : 

I hosted my sister's baby shower here, and the service was absolutely terrible. We seemed to be inconveniencing the servers. Small cramped quarters, bossy servers, ok food, unlabeled tea. Not worth the time or money!

Blogger aa said ... (February 26, 2010 at 2:06 PM) : 


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