While it’s been months since Knife Pleat initially opened its doors, their lunch and tea service began late last month. We made a reservation to experience the Sunday afternoon treat. Pricing begins at $57 per guest, and increases to $74 if you opt for a glass of Nicolas Feuillatte champagne. There’s also a single supplement option, but we’ll get to that later.
Afternoon tea includes a quartet of finger sandwiches, five types of pastries, and your own pot of tea. Since all bites are part of your experience, the toughest question to answer was which flavor we wanted. Earl Grey, Chamomile and Jasmine teas were safe bets. We were curious about their Granny’s Apple Pie, a decaf black containing spice and almond tones. Our date opted for Rooibos Raspberry Vanilla, a sweet, herbal blend. The only challenge we faced during our meal had to do with using non-traditional drinkware. Their metal teapots were extra hot to handle, making it difficult to refresh our beverage without assistance.
Besides our first-world problem, the rest of service was as smooth as the chocolate cremeux on our Louis XV pastry . . . but we digress. We casually worked our way from savory to sweet, beginning with our sandwich layer. The non-conformist of the bunch was a beet-cured salmon, assembled on rye-caraway bread; the other three were nestled between pullman slices. We enjoyed a subtle bite from pink peppercorn, capers and dill mingling with our seafood. Egg salad was flavored with whole grain mustard and chives. It was enough to acknowledge, but not too much to overpower. Since Knife Pleat’s caviar service starts at $95 during lunch and dinner, it made sense to splurge on the $18 Tsar Nicolai Plaza Hackleback caviar on brioche with lemon and dill butter. We adore salty over sweet, making a mental note to come back for a selfish serving during birthday season.
Moving on to pastry, we kicked things off by slathering raisin and classic scones with pear marmalade, fig jam and clotted cream. This carb party then went from simple to complex rather quickly, as we took a bite of our berry-filled tart. While dainty in size, the cream puff packed in a flavor bomb of maple syrup creaminess and pear compote, topped with crunchy caramelized pecan. Chocoholics will lose their mind over hazelnut praline and gianduja glaze in their Louix XV bite. Thanks to Pastry Chef Germain Biotteau, the best bite was an unexpected pairing of milk chocolate and passionfruit macaron. With a background that includes Michelin-starred Hôtel Plaza Athénée in Paris, we expected nothing less.
In many ways, this reminded us of afternoon teas we enjoyed while in London. Knife Pleat infused a classic service with modern touches, bringing more refinement to an already refined meal. They are also keen to accommodating for special dietary needs, so notify your server of allergies and the like. We suggest a little retail therapy beforehand to pass the time.
Knife Pleat is located at 3333 Bristol St., #3001 in Costa Mesa. (714) 266-3388; www.knifepleat.com.
A contributing writer for OC Weekly, Anne Marie freelances for multiple online and print publications, and guest judges for culinary competitions. A Bay Area transplant, she graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management from Cal Poly Pomona. Find her on Instagram as brekkiefan.