Samovar Tea: Luncheon Lounge

Pretty much since the first Samovar Tea Lounge opened in the Castro a few years back, I’ve been a devotee. I figured anyone as dedicated to introducing the art of tea from cultures around the globe as Jessie (the owner) is–in a cursed location in the midst of the dot-bomb era, no less–deserved my patronage. And he instantly earned my devotion.

On a recent afternoon, I snuck away from the piles of paperwork and untended emails that perpetually haunt me to luncheon at the new ‘Zen Valley’ location on the border of Hayes Valley. Like the other Samovar spots, this one has lots of gorgeous light and a chill vibe. The added dose of mellow from the Zen Center across the street makes it an even more tranquil locale and a new favorite hangout when I want to check out for a spell. Not only is the tea menu extensive and carefully selected, the tasty food pairs beautifully with the teas. I noshed on the curried egg sandwich accompanied by this bright, refreshing, berry/herbal Schizandra infusion iced tea. It’s described as a 2000 year old “adaptogenic tonic” that ‘gives you whatever you need: energy, relaxation, beauty, sexual prowess…’ I figured I couldn’t really lose.

SF Street Food Fest

If you’re in town Saturday, August 22, I’d recommend checking out the debut of SF Street Food Festival. Bring an empty stomach and walk or ride your bike to maximize calorie intake and minimize the aftermath.

(Sadly, I’ll miss this so please report back! And please don’t feel too sorry for me, I’ll be slummin’ it at Sea Ranch.)


I don’t have alot of occasion to head downtown, so it took me awhile to discover Farm:Table, a gem in the Tendernob. It’s a whisper of a place, like a best kept secret (which, I think it still is.)

All the food is of the moment and changes daily. There’s no strict rule for the menu offerings, but typically, there are savory & sweet breakfast creations borne in the teeny kitchen. A few weeks ago on my first visit, I opted for the sweet selection (I know….big surprise!) — toasted slices of walnut bread smeared with marscapone and topped with super juicy cherries. It was a bfast revelation for me.

The owners are not only super nice and friendly, they’re genuine in their love of what they do. The decor is simple and clean. From the name, I think I was expecting a big rustic farm table, but found a nice square communal table with benches and sweet, fresh flowers in the center.

Another day, there was a somewhat accidental tomato tasting menu (she got a little carried away at the farmer’s market): heirloom tom soup, cherry tom salad and a BLT w/ avocado &, yup, more toms. I loved it! That bright juice on the table was a really lovely watermelon/strawberry sip of refreshment on one of our rare warm, sunny days.

The coffee is definitely worth mentioning, cuz it’s from the fabulous Verve roasters in Santa Cruz. If you haven’t tasted their beans, you are in for a treat!

For those of you with canine companions, it’s a pooch friendly location (at least at the few tables outside) with treats all around.

I suggest hitting up this place before the masses discover it.