As the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Garden flourish with the vibrant beauty of spring, an eagerly anticipated event marks a significant milestone. After an extensive 18-month-long, $11.2 million restoration and renovation, the century-old Rose Garden Tea Room is reopening its doors on Wednesday, May 24. This cherished venue, with its rich history and timeless charm, has undergone a remarkable transformation that ensures its place in the future.
A Legacy Reimagined:
Since its construction in 1911 by architect Myron Hunt on the sprawling San Marino estate of Henry E. Huntington, the Rose Garden Tea Room has served a multitude of purposes. Originally designed as a billiard room and bowling alley for the esteemed railroad magnate, it later transformed into a commissary for visitors and staff when the estate opened to the public in 1928. In the 1980s, the tradition of English afternoon tea commenced, captivating generations of Angelenos with its midday ritual.
A Grand Restoration:
While the Tea Room underwent minor renovations over the years, a comprehensive revamp had never taken place until now. Entrusted to Architectural Resources Group, the monumental project aimed to modernize the building while preserving its original splendor. The restoration included bringing the Tea Room up to 21st-century standards, renovating the commercial kitchen, and introducing new additions such as the Shakespeare Pavilion and the Herb Room. These expansions were seamlessly integrated, respecting the visual integrity of the original structure by positioning them to the north. By employing the same historical materials and classical details, the harmony between old and new is eloquently achieved.
A Culinary Renaissance:
To complement the Tea Room’s renaissance, renowned executive chef Jeff Thurston and pastry chef Luis Perez from Bon Appétit Management Co. were enlisted to reimagine the afternoon tea menu. While a brief experiment with a buffet-style service took place before 2016, Thurston and Perez have returned to the traditional full-service experience for this latest iteration.
Inspired by Huntington’s breathtaking gardens, Thurston exclaims, “My favorite thing to do is to walk the various gardens in the mornings.” Drawing inspiration from the herb gardens and the vibrant colors of blooming flowers, the Tea Room’s menu will change with the seasons, incorporating the garden’s bounty whenever possible. The delectable offerings are served on tiered silver platters, showcasing a delightful array of savories and sweets. As the reopening coincides with spring, scratch-made scones are accompanied by marmalade crafted from fruit harvested from nearby 100-year-old groves. The chicken salad sandwich is enhanced by the inclusion of chives, tarragon, and parsley sourced from the adjacent herb garden.
Balancing Tradition and Innovation:
While the emphasis is on preserving tradition, Thurston and Perez also infuse a touch of innovation into their creations. One standout dish is the strawberry sandwich, which surprises the palate with hints of black pepper, saba, and arugula. As the seasons transition from spring to summer, expect tantalizing additions such as tomatoes, figs, and corn. Art of Tea, a reputable tea purveyor based in Monterey Park, provides over a dozen exquisite tea varieties for the service. From the signature blend with jasmine, vanilla, and bergamot notes to the enticing rose blend, each sip complements the refined experience.
Unveiling the Rose Garden Tea Room:
The Tea Room will be open for afternoon tea from Monday to Friday (excluding Tuesday) between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., and on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please note that admission to the Huntington is required for entry into the Tea Room. Visitors can choose from various admission options, including a one-day pass with prices varying by age or an annual membership starting at $159. Additionally, mark your calendars as the first Thursday of every month is Free Day, offering complimentary access with advance reservations.
The Rejuvenated Experience:
Stepping into the newly restored Rose Garden Tea Room is like entering a world of refined elegance and serene beauty. The intimate ambiance, enhanced by thoughtful renovations, sets the stage for an unforgettable afternoon tea experience. With an expanded seating capacity of 164, guests can indulge in the timeless ritual while surrounded by the enchanting views of the picturesque gardens.
Discover the Revitalized Rose Garden Tea Room at the Huntington Library
The iconic Rose Garden Tea Room at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Garden has reopened after a remarkable three-year closure. Following an extensive 18-month-long restoration and renovation project, this century-old building has emerged as a symbol of timeless elegance and culinary excellence. The restoration, spearheaded by Architectural Resources Group, has seamlessly blended historical charm with modern upgrades, propelling the beloved venue into a new era.
Experience the Timeless Tradition of Afternoon Tea
The Rose Garden Tea Room, originally conceived as a billiard room and bowling alley, has evolved into a cherished destination for Angelenos seeking the joy of traditional English afternoon tea. Executive chef Jeff Thurston and pastry chef Luis Perez from Bon Appétit Management Co. have crafted a menu that pays homage to this cherished ritual while incorporating innovative flavors and seasonal ingredients. Served on tiered silver platters, their exquisite offerings change with the seasons, reflecting the vibrant bounty of the surrounding gardens.
Immerse Yourself in Historic Splendor
As you step into the revitalized Tea Room, you’ll be greeted by an ambiance that seamlessly blends history and modernity. The meticulous restoration has preserved the original architectural details, while the addition of the Shakespeare Pavilion and the Herb Room brings a touch of contemporary elegance. Designed to harmonize with the existing structure, these new spaces provide expanded seating options without overshadowing the Tea Room’s visual appeal. The result is a truly immersive experience that transports guests to a bygone era.
Indulge in Culinary Delights
Under the guidance of Chef Thurston and Chef Perez, the afternoon tea menu at the Rose Garden Tea Room is a culinary masterpiece. From delicate finger sandwiches to freshly baked scones, each bite is a delightful symphony of flavors. The chefs take pride in incorporating ingredients sourced from the Huntington’s gardens whenever possible, ensuring a farm-to-table experience that celebrates the region’s seasonal produce.
Plan Your Visit
The Rose Garden Tea Room welcomes visitors from Monday to Friday (excluding Tuesday) between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., as well as on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Remember that admission to the Huntington is required for entry, with various options available. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a devoted fan of the Tea Room, this reimagined destination promises an enchanting experience that marries history, art, and gastronomy.
Don’t miss the opportunity to savor the delights of the revitalized Rose Garden Tea Room at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Garden. With its rich heritage, meticulous restoration, and delectable culinary offerings, this iconic venue invites you to indulge in an afternoon of refined elegance and unforgettable moments. Book your visit today and discover the renewed charm of one of Southern California’s most cherished treasures.