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The Beach Gourmet:

The Tudor House in Santa Monica has been serving High Tea in genuine Churchill’s teacups and saucers (very civilized) for more than 40 years, and, judging by my recent visit, they could well be maintaining the charm of an English Tea experience for the next 40 to come.

The Tudor House is much more than a simple Tea Room. With a well stocked shop, a very English function room and twice weekly horoscope reading sessions with Annie Shaw (Friday, 2-5 p.m. and Saturday 10:15-12:00 noon), it becomes a veritable Tudor experience that perhaps even Henry VII would have endorsed.

Although The Tudor House is well-known for classic afternoon teas (Tudor House Cream Tea: two portions of scones, fresh strawberries with Devonshire cream and raspberry jam, specialty tea or coffee, $7.95), it also boasts an in-house bakery that creates a substantial selection of unique pies, including spinach and cheese (cheddar cheese and spinach, $7.50), Scotch pie (ground beef and onion in a suet pastry, $7.50) and the classic steak and kidney (sirloin steak and beef kidney in rich gravy, $7.50).

On a recent visit with a friend, we sampled the aforementioned Tudor House Cream Tea and also a delicious vegetable curry pie (carrot, onion, bell peppers, broccoli, and peas in a mild curry sauce, accompanied by English baked beans, $9).

The server who attended us was sweet, polite and Scottish, with a wonderful, lilting Highland accent that had a relaxing, musical quality to it that perfectly complimented the “British-ness” of the décor, furniture and ambience.

The orders arrived pronto, and I cut into the thick-crusted pie and discovered a tasty medley of veggies in a mild curry sauce. That, with the English baked beans (made by Heinz but in a more delectable tomato sauce) and a curious, refreshing English glucose soda called Lucozade made for a fulfilling main meal.

The cream tea was a decadent experience with two warm and flaky scones, a generous dollop of thick Devonshire cream, raspberry jam and some super fresh, farmers’ market quality, sliced strawberries. The Tudor House offers a swathe of specialty teas from Ceylon breakfast (a high altitude, broken Orange Pekoe tea with a flowery bouquet, mildest of the breakfast teas) and China Oolong (a gentle brown tea with a fragrance resembling ripe peaches, a delightful tea served all by itself) to Russian Caravan (a blend of fine China teas favored by the old Russian aristocracy, and a classic tea for any occasion, traditionally served hot with lemon), and virtually any other kind that one can imagine.

We, however, chose the staple of all teas, English breakfast. A great tea any time of day, it was hot, robust and full-bodied, refreshing both the mind and body with aplomb.

The Tudor House is quiet, quaint and a quintessentially English tearoom. Don’t forget to raise the little pinky, though.

The Tudor House, 1403 2nd St., 310.451.4107  

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