Marathon sessions of Downton Abbey revved up a desire to do tea in a decidedly more refined setting than our dusty Mission abode. Sitting and drinking tea with friends seems civilized -- and a recent high tea outing to the Garden Court in the opulent Palace Hotel revealed that the genre's sandwiches may be petite, but there's more than enough to go around.
There are fancy teas on offer through the holidays, but you can also enjoy latkes in Mission Creek if that tempts.
When: Friday, Nov. 29 through Monday, Dec. 30
Cost: $40 to $50
The Rundown: Here, the traditional setting gives lots of pretty views -- all the better to swoop in on that three-tiered presentation of tea sandwiches nestled next to a sweet pot of loose leaf or tea infusions. Scones get their proper due, with Devonshire cream and puckery lemon curd. Those used to bottomless brunch may go for the unlimited Champagne, available for an extra $10. Do save room for the decadent dessert buffet: mini pumpkin cheesecakes, fresh fruit tartlets, and mini hazelnut crème puffs. On Fridays starting December 6, the tea's theme incorporates magic for the kid set, with ginger cookie decorating, a magician and face painting.
When: Sunday, Dec. 1 and Monday, Dec. 2
Where: Charles Chocolates
Cost: $36.50 to $52.50 plus tax
The Rundown: Chocolatier Chuck Siegel is known for his popular Father's Day and Flint Favorites teas, and decided to take the traditional foods of Hanukkah and celebrate them with afternoon tea next month. For Siegel, that means brisket sliders, latkes with homemade gravlax, and sufganyot with house made strawberry preserves. A wise reader of the tea leaves will opt for the "afternoon tea & chocolate" version, which includes a 10-piece box of artisan chocolates to take home.
When: Fridays through Sundays, Nov. 29 to Dec. 8; every day Dec. 13 to 22
Where: Sir Francis Drake Hotel
Cost: $30 per child, $60 per adult
The Rundown: Think traditional tea with a twist: There are ample tea breads (scones) and sandwiches and sweets here, but you can also get a Nutella banana sandwich with Euro-style drinking chocolate and fresh vanilla marshmallows; add on caviar service, oysters and sparkling wine if you're really celebrating. Sweet treats are made by Scala's new pastry chef, Kimberly Bugler, who has an eye for fun and festive fill: candy cane meringues, carrot cake madeleines and petit fours.