Pardee Home Museum

Ilana Walder-Biesanz
May 14, 2018 ยท 4 min read

Tea: โ˜•๏ธ โ˜•
Food: ๐Ÿฐ ๐Ÿฐ ๐Ÿฐ ๐Ÿฐ
Ambience: ๐ŸŒธ ๐ŸŒธ ๐ŸŒธ ๐ŸŒธ ๐ŸŒธ
Overall rating: ๐Ÿ’– ๐Ÿ’– ๐Ÿ’– ๐Ÿ’–
Tags: elegant, historical, english


Afternoon tea at the Pardee Home Museum, an 1868 Italianate mansion on the edge of downtown Oakland, is entirely cooked and served by volunteers. We went in with low expectations: we knew the ambience would be exquisite, but we anticipated a merely standard spread of snacks. We were wrong. There was only one variety of tea on offer, itโ€™s true, but the food was delicious, varied, and elaborately presented.

The front entrance of the Pardee Home Museum in Oakland.

This isnโ€™t the right destination for connoisseurs of distinctive tea varieties. The English Breakfast blend we were given was tasty but ordinary. (A point in its favor: it was brought to the table pre-brewed to the appropriate strength.) Refills of tea, milk, and sugar (cubed, with proper tongs) came quickly enough to satisfy our voracious appetites. The sterling silver teaspoons and pressed linen napkins were a nice touch.

Undoubtedly, the star of afternoon tea at the Pardee Home Museum is the food. The savory course included beautifully decorated, scrumptious bites. Some highlights: surprisingly flavorful open-faced cucumber sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches with flowers made from radishes and dill adorning their tops, and flavorful chicken salad puffs. Our food restrictions were handled well: separate plates of savories came for the vegetarian and pescatarian in our group, featuring caprese bites and olive puffs.

The initial spread on the dining room table, with plenty of fresh flowers; the complete set of vegetarian savory options.

Scones followed the savories course โ€” iced orange-cranberry scones served fresh from the oven and melting in our mouths. The accompaniments were the only false notes: a too-sweet strawberry jam, and not-quite-real clotted cream (which, per our rules, keeps the Pardee Home from an otherwise deserved five-cake food score). The cream had a thick yogurt-like texture and rich vanilla flavor, but it still lacked clotted creamโ€™s distinctive texture and taste. (If the recipe book on display is to be believed, it was made from mascarpone.)

Fresh glazed scones; lemon curd tartlets with blueberry; chocolate mousse and cookies, all garnished with flowers.

We finished the meal with a huge spread of sweets. Wafers of sliced almonds didnโ€™t delight, but everything else did. We polished off sugared pecan cookies, miniature cups of lemon curd, chocolate mousse, fruit skewers, strawberry macarons, and Canadian shortbread. The servers kindly offered us bags to take home anything we didnโ€™t finish, but we enjoyed the desserts too much to save them for later!

One of the tea cups and tea pots at our table; Enoch Pardeeโ€™s 13-point elk hanging above the dining room; Mary Pardeeโ€™s beloved crab inkwell.

The surroundings in the Pardee Home are sheer elegance. We ate in a dining room crammed full of vintage china, iridescent glassware, elaborately carved furniture, and a thirteen-point elkโ€™s head mounted on the wall. (We learned that it was a trophy brought home by Enoch Pardee, the houseโ€™s original owner and an avid hunter.) Our teacups and plates were charming mismatched porcelain. Every dish brought to the table was arranged with flowers from the houseโ€™s garden: roses, cherry blossoms, nasturtiums, pansies, and more. The service (run by friendly, dedicated volunteers) matched the fine ambiance, with the savories appearing as soon as we were seated and each subsequent course arriving promptly. Following the tea service, a docent treated us to a detailed tour of the house. Our only atmospheric complaint was a general mustiness that caused sneezes and sniffles; asthmatics and others with breathing troubles should probably pass.


Date attended: May 6, 2018
Attendees: Erica, Ilana, Hannah, Jasmine, Marissa & Tom

Note: teas at the Pardee Home Museum must be booked at least two weeks in advance. There is a minimum of six guests, and a maximum of twelve.

Price/seat: $30
Location: 672 Eleventh Street, Oakland
Menu: www.pardeehome.org

Highfalutin Afternoon Tea Society

H.A.T.S. is a project to visit and review all afternoon tea services in the San Francisco Area.

Ilana Walder-Biesanz

Written by

Highfalutin Afternoon Tea Society

H.A.T.S. is a project to visit and review all afternoon tea services in the San Francisco Area.

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