Coffee, Tea and Tulips, the tea room and bistro in Mission Viejo, has created a new look inside to go along with some delicious new menu items created by Artiste Michael Samawi, the “Moody Chef” responsible for the innovative cuisine at Coffee Tea and Tulips. In an interview today, September 18, Lina Samawi, Michael's wife and the owner of Coffee Tea and Tulips, said about the new look, “We've kept some of the looks of Grandma's tea room here, with the dried flowers and other homey touches, but we've also added a new, brighter look to the inside to appeal to the younger crowd. The inside is about the art and the food experience”. Artiste Michael added, “Some of the pieces of abstract art on display were created by an abstract artist that has gone through an emotional art project to create them. The room is designed not just as a tea room, but also about artists”. Inside the menu, pictures of the artwork have additional details about them.
Along with the new look, several new menu items have been introduced. Artiste Michael has patterned the dining experience at Coffee Tea and Tulips after what he calls the “Jesus as a Foodie Diet”. Artiste Michael's inspiration for the diet and menu takes the fresh flavors of Mediterranean foods and utilizes the healthful aspect of them to create new dishes that are light, flavorful and yet filling. He uses more than elements from the Mediterranean though, using both crepes and French tartes as bases for some of his creations. Several tapas plates also provide an homage to Spain's influence on food in the Mediterranean.
Pickled, Preserved, Dried and Confit: This new dish combines several house-made items to produce a tapas plate that has elements of salty, tangy and sweet delights. The house-made preserved lemon, a Moroccan specialty, is cured in-house by Artiste Michael. “I preserve the lemons for a week or more to develop the flavors”, he said. He also talked about the olives on the plate. “I was inspired to present them warm, which brings out a unique flavor. They are marinated in a blend of olive oil and herbs that I make here”. The olives were truly an eye-opener, the warmth of them not only contrasting with the cold items on the plate but adding a new depth of flavor to them. The sun-dried tomatoes were dried and not packed or served in oil, allowing the sweetness of the unadorned tomatoes to shine. A tomato confit rounded out the plate, with Artiste Michael describing how “the tomatoes are seeded, blanched so the skin can be removed, marinated in olive oil, herbs and spices and then placed in the oven to slowly build their flavors”. Unlike the flavor of roasted tomatoes, these had a freshness that was still apparent even after the cooking. Tender but still holding together, they were a nice complement to the other items on the dish.
North Beach Crepe: Not a new dish, but one of the most popular, this dish combines a perfectly cooked crepe, thin but with a nice amount of crispy crunch in spots, along with a topping of fresh herbs, tomato, feta cheese and more. Gorgonzola cheese adds a contrasting cheese texture and flavor, while pine nuts add a wonderful crunch to the dish. Green pesto and purple onions provide a bit of zing, while the fresh spinach adds delicate flavor. Finally, the dish is lightly finished with two kinds of balsamic vinegar. The key to the way the crepe is dressed is in the restraint that Artiste Michael shows, adding just enough balsamic to introduce flavor but not enough to ruin the integrity of the crepe. As a tribute to Artiste Michael's time spent living in San Francisco, this captures his love of it perfectly.
Scones: To provide the authentic tea room experience, Artiste Michael provides the traditional tea accompaniment, scones. These are not ordinary scones, however, but lighter and not as crumbly as most. As Artiste Michael said, “some people who had scones in London compared ours to the scones in Harrods famous tea room. They felt they were equally as good”. Indeed, the scones, served with a traditional clotted cream and apricot preserves, were a delight to eat, tasty but without the heaviness usually associated with scones. The cream added a delightful touch while the preserves added a sweetness that complemented the scone without overpowering the flavor.
Fatteh: A new dish, filled with the flavors of the Middle East. The dish itself was a combination of familiar and exotic flavors, starting with a layer of fresh pita chips, an excellent fresh hummus, tahini and chopped greens. Chicken breast topped the layers, along with pine nuts, sumac and some dried mint. Another dish that tasted light but was pleasantly filling, the combination of textures in this dish was a delight.
Other new dishes include the Tel Aviv Wrap, consisting of chicken breast topped with a sour Cream-Bleu Cheese aioli and then wrapped with greens, onion and bacon;an a Deconstructed Egg Salade, an new and interesting take on the classic dish. Also new are several breakfast items, further reinforcing Artiste Michael's theme that food can be flavorful, satisfying and interesting without being heavy. Breakfast dishes include some with eggs and some without, providing excellent options for those desiring something lighter. The eggs are scrambled and not fried, again providing a healthier alternative to get the day going. With the new look and the new dishes, Coffee Tea and Tulips certainly can appeal to more then just the tea room crowd. Indeed, for any one who wants a creative breakfast or lunch that will not weigh them down, with fresh flavors that pop and provide joy the the taste buds,Coffee Tea and Tulips is the perfect place to go.
Coffee Tea and Tulips
25280 Marguerite Pkwy
Mission Viejo, CA 92692