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A Lovely Bridal Shower at the Tudor Rose

Bridal Shower at the Tudor Rose

At lunch on a recent weekday, every seat in The Tudor Rose was taken, occupied by brightly dressed women in pretty dresses, most wearing colorful hats and a few even decked out in gloves.

Each guest at the downtown Santa Rosa restaurant had a pot of tea (or two) on the table, and most had tea sandwich caddies brimming in tiers of dainty bites. Suddenly, one of the servers broke into song, a Broadway-caliber version of “Downtown,” and the ladies sang along.

What a fun idea for a bridal shower.

While such gatherings can go the way of nightclubs, wine tasting tours, home events or simple luncheons, a tea party lets guests play dress-up before the more important dress-up event itself: the wedding. Girls kick back and relax, it’s pinkies in the air, and plenty of good, clean, retro fun.

Tudor House owner Angela Grant is all about the party, as she is the first to say in her lilting Liverpool accent as she visits each table. When she opened her café this April, she wanted every detail covered. Classic polished wood tables and chairs set with floral cushions. White linen napkins in pretty rings. Cozy armchairs, softly glowing lamps, and servers dressed in old English style.

She took her early career experience — everything from working on the factory line at Cadbury Chocolates, to being a chambermaid at a grand London hotel, to lots of restaurant work — and built it into this charming space complete with a white picket fence patio and a graceful salon in the back that she plans to use for private parties.

The tea service is old-fashion glamour, served in mismatched antique pots alongside an eclectic mix of heirloom china and silver. The food covers the classics, of fresh baked tartlets, cookies, daily eclairs like strawberry custard, scones or crumpets with clotted cream and jam and housemade organic lemon curd.

One can eat small, such as a choice of four finger sandwiches ($5.95), perhaps English cucumber with fresh mint leaves, candied pecan-crusted chevre with fresh watercress, egg or chicken salad, prosciutto with organic fig compote, smoked salmon, or smoked ham and apple with brie. Or maybe a William Shakespeare salad hits the spot ($12.95), for a Nicoise in creamy chive-buttermilk dressing.

Yet even more fun are the combination caddies, which bring an opulence of dainties like the Catherine of Aragon ($24.95), in an array of assorted tea sandwiches, scone with jams and clotted cream, a savory pastie dolloped with a terrific organic herb mustard, a small mixed green salad, a cup of soup, and an endless pot of tea.

There are more than a half dozen options, some rustic (the Ploughman’s, with cheeses, sausage rolls and such) and all refined (the tea ranges from the powerful Scottish Highlands black tea to a delicate coconut cream Rooibos).

Details: The Tudor Rose, 733 Fourth St., Santa Rosa, 707-535-2045.

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