There are few meals more civilized than a proper Afternoon Tea. A pot of fresh-brewed fine tea and scones, tea sandwiches, clotted cream, savories, petit fours, pinkies up… ah yes, delightful indeed. It might be even more fun when it’s served in a “Steampunk Tearoom.” Clockwork Rose Tea Emporium provides all this. And does it pretty much perfectly. This is the afternoon tea of your “Wish-I-was-in-England” dreams.
Location: Clockwork Rose is located at 12412 SW Broadway in historic downtown Beaverton, Oregon. This is the Tualatin Valley, often called “Portland’s Back Yard.” Less than 45 minutes from the center of the big city, the Valley is known for its open green spaces and small town vibes.
Menu: The full High Tea is the star of this steampunk show. It begins with Caesar salad, then out comes the three-tiered serving plate. On the bottom are the savories—three dainty tea sandwiches and three mini-quiches, pot pies or Cornish pasties. Think salmon with cream cheese, egg salad, vinegared cucumbers sliced thin as paper, maybe even a slice of green tortilla wrap with roast beef and provolone. The middle tier is reserved for a pair of scones and pots of thick clotted cream. On top are five sweet treats—perhaps a chocolate eclair, a berry tart, a pair of petit fours, a lemon bar, and the macaroon of the day. A separate plate holds jam, lemon curd and pannacotta topped with berries. On the table, your personal pot of tea rests on a warmer to keep it at the perfect temperature. You are certainly not going home hungry.
Although most famous for its by-reservation High Tea service, Clockwork Rose Tea Emporium also has a weekday walk-in menu for smaller appetites. You can get a “Cream Tea” with just a pot of tea, scones, cream, and jam. Caesar salad, pot pies, quiche, cookies, pastries and pots of tea are also served singly.
Thoughts: I loved everything about Clockwork Rose Tea Emporium. The owners, Harold and Maggie Nolder, are very much hands-on proprietors. Maggie serves, dressed in a black Victorian gown. Harold, who plans to become an official tea sommelier, explains the tea offerings, pointing out the differences and fine points and offering smells and samples to help you choose. They serve only the finest teas from the Harney & Sons collection, with over 50 varieties available, including green, black and herbal teas.
Almost everything that comes out of the kitchen is hand-made, either on site or from a local artisan bakery. Maggie makes the clotted cream herself, from scratch. “It takes two days to make it,” she said, explaining the labor-intensive process. And it is highly delicious, a taste of heaven.
And then there is the décor: Picture clocks of every kind lining the walls, even in the bathroom; stained glass, Montgolfier balloons, and a dirigible hanging overhead. There’s something whimsical to look at every place your eye falls. A fireplace pours out warmth on chilly days, fronted by wood-trimmed wingback chairs upholstered in green velvet. A black-and-white Victorian loveseat faces a low table with a large chess set. People often sit on the floor to play.
At the tables, black or white tablecloths set off the many different designs of flowered china and silver. Black wooden chairs are upholstered in a mix of black-and-white fabrics, and Persian rugs cover the floors. An eclectic steampunk mix that simply works, in every respect. To me, it felt like something out of Alice in Wonderland by way of Jules Verne.
Price Range: The prices at Clockwork Rose Tea Emporium fall in the middle range. While the set price for High Tea, at $30, may seem high, it brings you a lot of food and atmosphere, excellent personalized service, and no sense of being rushed. Reservations for High Tea are taken in two-hour sittings. On the weekday a la carte walk-in menu, you can get a “Cream Tea,” with a small pot of tea, scones, jam, and clotted cream for $8.95. $3.95 brings you a single large scone with jam or lemon curd; a Caesar salad is $9.95; a half Caesar salad and quiche is $11.95. They are happy to box up leftovers to take away.
Additional Notes: Because Clockwork Rose Tea Emporium’s High Tea has become so popular, it is served strictly by reservation only. On weekends, the walk-in menu is not offered at all, only the set tea, and it is now usually necessary to reserve about three months in advance. They will put you on a waiting list for shorter time frames in case of cancellations. During the week, walk-ins are accepted if there are openings. When the reservations list is filled, they post non-availability to their Facebook page. Reservations can be made on their website.
Clockwork Rose Tea Emporium is open Wednesday through Saturday, 11 am to 7 pm. Closed Monday and Tuesday.
Important Reminder: There are NO walk-ins on weekends. High Tea by reservation ONLY.
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Disclosure: The author’s visit to Clockwork Rose Tea Emporium was hosted by Tualatin Valley/Washington County Visitors Association. This post contains affiliate links. Clicking through for additional information or to make a purchase may result in a small commission being paid, at no additional expense to you. By doing so, you help support this site and its authors, and we thank you.
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