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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

into the bow room

when the hello kitty grand cafe opened in irvine a few months ago, i knew we were going to make our way there eventually.  along with the other treats that had been offered at the pop-up hello kitty cafes (irvine, arcadia, rancho cucamonga), there was a reservations-only afternoon tea, plus a 21+ only cocktail bar in the evenings.  when a friend texted me excitedly to say that reservations were available on their yelp page, i jumped right on and secured a table for afternoon tea.  they require you to reserve in multiples of two, so i made ours for a party of four and then there was nothing to do but wait.

we decided to invite one of the bean's besties to join us, and i was pretty excited when the day finally came.  we made the drive down to irvine on sunday morning and arrived just in time for our 10:30 reservation.

i guess i didn't take a picture of the outside, but you're not really missing much.  and when you step inside, it seems really small - there's the cafe counter and a few tables for seating. everything is, of course, decorated in hello kitty paraphernalia.

the tea room is behind this door.

when you check in, everyone in the party is handed one of these cards to read before entering.

and then it's time to go inside!

i want these plates.

and the cup and saucer.

oh, and the teapots.

the menu is pretty simple.  afternoon tea is a set menu, so there really isn't much to do but choose your tea flavor.

first course:  strawberries and cream.

and here's a closeup of that adorable pink hello kitty sugar cube:

you only get one, and then you have to ask for more sugar if you want to drink more than one cup of tea.  you're also not offered any cream to go with your tea.

the food is delivered on the cutest tiered stand ever:

on top, buttermilk scones and petit fours.  the scones are a little hard and extra crumbly, and nothing is served with them unless you ask for it.  and even then, cream is not available - just butter and jam.

the second tier contains your desserts - an apple-shaped cupcake, chocolate cake and a raspberry macaron.

that apple cupcake is terrible, by the way.  dry, flavorless cake topped with greasy, icky buttercream frosting.

the bottom tier has your tea sandwiches.  these were just okay - a hello kitty-shaped cucumber sandwich, egg salad served in a mini cone, a mozzarella and tomato pesto tart (which i'll admit was truly tasty and i could have eaten about a dozen of them), and a pretzel croissant with smoked salmon that was also pretty good and a decent size.

 the palate cleanser served with the check is a lemon-flavored gummy candy.

when the girls went to the restroom and came back to report that it was super cute inside, you know i had to go in.

 and on the way out, we took this last shot.

so here's my little tip, in case you're planning on going:  be prepared to spend more than a pretty penny on this outing.  it's $55 per person (which i'd totally misread after i'd seen that you had to reserve in multiples of two, whoops) and they tack on a 15% gratuity for parties of 1 or more (meaning, pretty much everyone).  and if what you're after is a super adorable hello kitty-themed experience, cost is not a factor and you're not particularly hungry or have high expectations for quality of the food - well, you should definitely come.  but if what you want is a proper afternoon tea with all the accoutrements and delicious food and great service...i'm gonna tell you to go pretty much anywhere else.  in the end, i'm glad we came - we had a lot of fun together and everything was super duper cute and a few of the food items were good.

but it's definitely a one-and-done thing for us.  on to the next thing!

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