Is It Any Good?

High class Tea at the Huntington Library and Gardens.

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Okay, let’s start at the beginning.

The family was in town, and I brought them to the Huntington Library and Gardens…as one much I supposed. I’ve covered the changes to the Huntington and hope you get a chance to visit it soon.

So, hunger sets up after a couple of hours, and the Fam wants to do a whee bit better than the on-campus Cafeteria. Not that it’s bad, it’s that we ate there for semi-breakfast, and now for our late-lunch, we want something else. We’re even considering leaving campus to get that grub.

And then we see the Rose Garden Tea Room, and decide to take a chance.

A long, patient, dreary chance.

Ever try to get into the Rose Garden Tea Room on a weekend? Yeah, not easy. And not recommended.

The Rose Garden Tea Room? Totally recommended, but trying to get in without a reservation? Yeah, don’t go there.

Me and my party of four waited for about…I don’t know. I was over an hour, and I promised my family that this was totally worth the way. About an hour into the wait, my people are staring daggers at me. “This better be @#$%ing worth it”.

My eighty-plus year old Cousin. That’s what she was thinking. I swear!

Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens

We finally get in, and even at near closing time the place is still jam packed. We shuffle off to our table. Get the lay of the land from staff (even though we already knew what to do), and then it was “Game On!”

The Rose Garden Tea Room is a very formal affair, proper chairs, proper napkins, proper tablecloths, all decorated in a light pastel kind of a shade. In the center of the room is a open-air, deli-like refrigerator where all the good stuff is kept: Cookies, Cakes, Finger Sandwiches, etc. “Game On” basically means you get up your table, and attack the selections at whim, and keep going until you’ve had enough.

Even at the end of the day, when they’re…basically…running out of grub, the food remains good. It’s not quite as fresh as for the folks who made reservations, at this points who’s complaining. Even after the long wait, with the clock having beaten us all down a little, I got the feeling everyone would come back in a heartbeat, and tear into the Rose Garden Tea Room’s selections all over again.


WHAT SHOULD I GET?: As I said, you’re really at the mercy of what they cook up, and it’s the same every day. You’ve got your Tea Sandwiches: Carrot Ginger, White Albacore Salad, Smoked Salmon, Chicken Tarragon, Watercress, Cucumber Mint, and Egg Salad. Being it was as late as it was, we didn’t have the entire selection, but the Chicken Tarragon, Cucumber Mint, and Egg Salad were all there, with the Chicken Tarragon being the clear leader in the club house.

Yeah, that’s what it is. The Rose Garden Tea Room reminds me of what a Golf Club House would look like at a fancy PGA Event, except lady-fied.

Anyway, where was I?

You’ve also got seasonal fruits and cheese, very popular with everyone, and an assortment of dessert treats, Scones, Lemon Bars and the like.

Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens

And if you don’t finish ‘em, don’t worry. The staff at the Huntington will bag ‘em up for you to take home.

But eat ‘em fast, my best is they’ll be stale by 9pm that night.

And of course, they’ve got Tea. (I mean, it’s called a dang Tea Room. They better have some tea): Strawberry Kiwi, Rose, Apricot, Estate Black, b. We dabbled in Rooibos mostly.


IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Yeah, when the Rose Garden Tea Room says “Reservations are required”. BELIEVE ‘EM. This whole trip would have gone a lot smoother with a little planning on my part.

Also, it’s about $31.00 per person. (All you can eat, remember?) Kids, depending on their age are less.


PARKING: Parking is standard in the Huntington’s lot. It’s pretty spacious and better organized since the remodeling. It’s free, just park there, pay the admission to the Huntington (yes, you still have to do that) and be at the Tea Room in time for your reservation.

Because you made a reservation, right? Right??!?


Rose Garden Tea Room
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, CA 91108

Tel: (626) 405-2100

Monday, Wednesday-Friday: noon to 4:30 p.m. (last seating at 3:30 p.m.)
Closed Tuesdays
Saturday & Sunday: 10:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (last seating at 3:30 p.m.)

During our summer hours (Memorial Day through Labor Day) the Tea Room is open Wednesday – Monday: 10:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (last seating at 3:30 p.m.)

On Free Days (the first Thursday of each month) the Tea Room is open from 10:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Reservations are accepted for those with Free Day tickets.

Walk-in seating is also available on a first-come, first-served basis.