Dartealing Lounge seems out of place in industrial SoMa, on a warehouse-lined street near the freeway overpass. But perhaps that’s where the relaxing tradition of afternoon tea is most badly needed. To please all tastes, Dartealing offers themed tea menus — currently, Game of Thrones, Holiday Limited Edition, Sherlock Holmes, and Downton Abbey. Each includes black, green, rooibos, and white or herbal options.
Our reviewers were sharply divided on the teas. We tried Tea at Tiffany’s (green), Belle Epoque (black with white chocolate notes), La Vie en Rose (rooibos), and Castle Black (black with fig and honey notes). (We had initially ordered White Christmas instead of Castle Black, keeping to the Holiday Limited Edition menu, but they had run out of it.) The rooibos drinkers agreed that La Vie en Rose was underwhelming, without much flavor. Tea at Tiffany’s was a very bright and grassy green, with musky hints. Belle Epoque tasted like a standard, good-quality black tea, while Castle Black had an overwhelming honey aroma and flavor. Opinions of Castle Black ranged from “consolation for all the criminals and bastards at the Wall” (Tom) to “weak and flat” (Jasmine).
We generally agreed that the food was excellent. Our choice of four sandwich flavors included Egg & Pesto, Smoked Salmon Mousse, Cucumber Arugula, and Hummus Eggplant. All were heavily spiced and very flavorful, and were hits with all reviewers except Marissa (who is cucumber-averse and was disappointed to find cucumbers in the smoked salmon and hummus-eggplant selections, despite not being mentioned on the menu). We worry that other tea sandwiches will taste bland now that we have sampled such rich delicacies. Other savories — chicken-pesto pastry cups and potato puffs — were similarly delicious. We enjoyed both the snickerdoodle scones and cranberry scones, topped with “royal cream” (under-whipped, sweetened butter — it was good, but definitely not clotted cream). Neither jam nor lemon curd was provided. The top tier of sweets, often disappointing on afternoon tea trays, was a highlight, with grilled lemon-poppyseed cake and small cheesecake squares that provided a satisfying finish to the meal without being cloying.
Dartealing walks the line between kitsch and elegance. As one of us put it, it’s SoMa-kitschy, not Grandma’s-attic kitschy. Upholstery is pink chintz, and teacups are mismatched with saucers and each other (occasionally carelessly — a teacup base larger than its saucer indentation caused some precarious wobbling before two of us swapped saucers). However, the pink-and-floral theme is not carried beyond the tables; the wall decor is understated, with green wallpaper, yellow curtains, and colored glassware lining shelves. As of early January, wreaths and swags of greenery still adorned the walls and windowsills.
Date Attended: January 7, 2018
Attendees: Erica, Hannah, Ilana, Jasmine, Marissa & Tom
Price/seat: $34 (Holiday Royal Tea)
Location: 470 3rd St., San Francisco