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Taking Tea

March 08, 1987| Compiled by Steven Smith

There is nothing quite so civilized as a leisurely cup of tea and a couple of scones on a lovely afternoon. Add a few fine sandwiches, a spot of sherry (included in the price where noted), and you have all the makings of a meal. Some of the following restaurants even add a little soothing music to the brew. THE ATRIUM (180 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, (213) 491-0677.) The Atrium, small and glass-domed, overlooks a dreamlike Promenade lit with old-fashioned citron-yellow lamps. At night, the room is festive and romantic and feels like a 19th-Century greenhouse or, if you sit in one of the booths, like a well-appointed dining carriage on a first-class train. The diner is pleasantly dislocated in time; it's easy to imagine hiding away in a booth on some rainy afternoon to enjoy sherry, caviar sandwiches, real chocolate truffles and freshly baked scones. Reservations. Tea served 3-4 p.m. Tue.-Fri. All major credit cards. Street parking. Tea for two, $18.

THE BILTMORE HOTEL (515 S. Olive St., Los Angeles, (213) 624-1011.) The newly renovated Rendezvous Court offers tea and scones and a little peace. An old-fashioned fountain splashes musically in the middle of this little piece of the past. Arrayed around it are ornate rugs, overstuffed chairs and cozy sofas from another era. A fantastically painted ceiling looks down on the proceedings. A waiter with a courtly manner pours one of 16 possible blends of tea into delicate cups. With the tea are plates of tiny sandwiches, and wonderful, plump scones accompanied by clouds of cream and fresh strawberries and jam. Tea served 2-5 p.m. daily. All major credit cards. Street and lot parking. Tea for two, $20.

PACIFIC DINING ROOM CO. (1310 West 6th St., Los Angeles, (213) 483-6000.) The dining car look has been pretty much camouflaged in recent years with lattices, vines and painted siding suggesting a country cottage, but the original railroad-narrow room is still there in the middle. In keeping with its round-the-clock hours, high tea is served every day, with a choice of sherry, tea, sandwiches, scones and sweets. Tea served 3-5:30 p.m. daily. MC, V. Valet parking. Tea for two, $20.

PADDINGTON'S TEA ROOM (729 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 652-0624.) If the place itself, with its cozy clutter, won't instantly transport you to Britain, then the two nice ladies who run Paddington's Tea Room will. For high tea you'll get a pot of tea served in an individual brown Betty pot. You'll get pate with water crackers from a tin, fresh vegetables with a dip, delicious raisin scones served with Devonshire cream and jams, and very fresh finger sandwiches. Tea served 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Sat, 1:30-7 p.m. Sun. Reservations. AE, CB or DC. Street parking. Tea for two, $19.-$22. RITZ-CARLTON HOTEL (33533 Shoreline Drive, Laguna Niguel, (714) 240-2000.) Although it's more than two years since the Ritz-Carlton's splashy debut and other grand luxe hotels have been built since, the bloom does not seem to have faded from the Ritz. High tea is served in the Ritz-Carlton's library adjacent to the hotel proper; the room is handsomely traditional, with a view of the sparkling ocean. Tea includes authentic English tea bread, finger sandwiches, pastries, scones, preserves and a variety of teas. Tea served 2:30-5 p.m. daily. All major credit cards. Tea for two, $25.

TRUMPS (8764 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 855-1480.) Trumps is an eclectic mix that attracts everybody from movie stars to business execs to secretaries on the prowl. Last November two new dining rooms and a garden terrace opened to enable them to feed more fans. Trumps offers high tea served in both; the meal includes four types of tea sandwiches, scones with fresh jam and triple cream, Earl Grey tea, and a choice of white wine, sherry or mineral water. Open for tea Mon.-Sat. 3:30-5:15 p.m. Reservations. AE, V, MC. Street parking. Tea for two, $24.

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