“Can we go to Man Bar & Bites instead?”
That was the query of my fiancé after I implored him to come to Tea Bar & Bites with me. I made my maiden voyage with a work colleague and was more or less floored by the quality, freshness and taste of this lunch café’s food and wanted to return immediately. So yes, the name is a little girlie, but dang if the food ain’t amazing. He will be coming back with me, and he will love it. It is final.
Delicious takes on lunch staples, several with a Mediterranean flair. TB&B serves healthy, hearty lunch staples dolled up with fantastic ingredients. My lunch partner and I started with the hummus and grilled pita. Now, I love hummus and I’ve eaten a lot of it, but this was one of the better batches I’ve had. Thick, creamy and freshly made, it had the discernible tang of lemon juice, the kick of garlic and the tell-tale nutty sweetness of the chickpeas. We plowed through the pita pretty quickly and our server (we had several helping us at any given time) amiably brought us some more. My lunch partner had the Turkey and Smoked Gouda Panini with a cafe salad on the side. The panini was perfectly grilled and filled, with a nice complexity, thanks to the smoked cheese, pesto mayo and artichoke hearts. I had the Asian Chicken Wrap, also with a cafe salad. The wrap swaddled ample amounts of grilled chicken, red peppers, spinach and asparagus and was drizzled with a peanut dressing. When the wrap came out, I saw the dressing and thought, “Hmm, looks bottled.” Definitely wasn’t. It had a luscious, natural, peanutty, soy-saucey flavor without being too overpowering. The salad was, as was everything else, a marriage of all the best possible ingredients tossed with a yummy balsamic vinaigrette. And for the piece de resistance, the peanut butter brownie. I had every intention of holding out but my lunch partner wore me down. And for that, I curse her. I could have lived a very long and happy life never knowing what caloric delights lie mere blocks from my home. But now I know and I cannot forget it. Imagine the best brownie you have ever had with a sugary, buttery, peanut butter spread shmeared atop it. Now imagine the string of cusswords coming out of my mouth as I licked the plate and slipped into self-loathing and sugar shock. Un-frigging-believable. The menu has about a dozen or so other seasonal sandwiches, salads, soups, quiches and desserts in addition to changing daily specials. Most options hover in the $7 to $10 range.
We had the house iced tea, which is orange pekoe and cloves. Now, I love Lipton's as much as the next gal but it was a refreshing change of pace to enjoy a little artisinal flavor with my caffeine jolt. The ample refills of my glass kept me vibrating well into the afternoon. As the name implies, Tea Bar is, well, a tea bar so this is the place to go if you’re a lover of the leaf, as I am. There were several intriguing varieties of loose tea that I will be returning to purchase, each sounding more exotic and delicious than the next. They also had the standard lunch drinks, such as lemonade, and charge a small corkage fee if you want to bring wine to the Friday dinners.
Quiet, tranquil, adorable. We ate outside and it was an absolute delight. The fountain, the plants and the Spanish Mission-style architecture gave it a sunny, West Coast feel, and the servers and owner, Colleen, were friendly, prompt and helpful. Patrons were older married couples, groups of friends, work associates and lone diners posting up with a book. The structure, the ambiance and the freshness and quality of the food transported me to another sunny, culinary wonderland (forgive the cheese). The interior is warm hued stucco walls, natural wood floors and ceilings and bright, airy dining areas. They now serve dinner on Friday nights and have monthly theme dinners.
The bottom line:
OK, so the name is a little girlie – but it didn’t scare the dudes away. That’s what I told my fiancé and that is why I’m going to strong-arm him into returning with me soon. Very soon. The food is an incredible value, given the quality and quantity and the surroundings are peaceful, romantic and beautiful. This little gem tucked back in Pickwick Place has a solid core of fans for very good reason. And now that core is one stronger – and hungrier.
Tea Bar & Bites
Quaint lunch spot is a sanctuary of flavor, freshness and the illest brownie you'll ever have
By Kerry LeonardMetromix
September 22, 2008
- Critic's Rating:
“Can we go to Man Bar & Bites instead?”