Dec 21, 2008

I only lived in London for a short while, but it was long enough for the charm of a simple, perfect scone to haunt my dreams. Back here in Pasadena, I have been working hard to try to find an acceptable replacement to the joys of the ones at the Savoy on the Strand or the Mock Turtle in Brighton. This mythical creature has come to mean many things in the States, and it’s hard to find two scones that set out to do the same thing — some are almost biscuity, completely ignoring the sweetness found in traditional scones; some are almost cookie-like; some are too dry, too dense, too everything. One thing all American scones do agree on is a profound overzealous nature — they are just too big.

All that being said, here are scones I have found in the San Gabriel Valley, some passing, some excellent.

1. Scarlet Tea Room
Visiting this little tea room is a decadent experience not for the faint of heart. Everything is sparkly and fantastical, including the food. Its scones are a delight, a perfect mixture of sweet and savory, of crusty on the outside and moist on the inside. They are even a perfectly reasonable size. I highly recommend the chocolate chip. So sit down, have a big pot of tea, and enjoy. 18 W. Green St., Pasadena,

2. Tea Rose Garden
This is my favorite place for a simple tea.  I’ve been coming almost weekly since it opened and it is nothing if not consistent.  Although they are large, like all American scones, their tendency toward dryness is compensated for with miraculous whipped cream. Sure, it’s not traditional clotted cream, but it’s fantastic. For a quick, relatively cheap complete tea, Tea Rose takes the cake. Er, scone. Sorry. 28 S. Raymond Ave., Old Pasadena,

3. Little Flower Candy Co.
Everyone already knows about the brilliance of everything made here, but I admit I was surprised to see scones in the case. Though it was not a normal sweet scone — I tried the cheese and dill variety — it definitely had the best all-around texture: a bit crunchy on the outside but still soft on the inside. Perfect It tended a bit toward the biscuit side of things due to the savory flavor, but these scones are definitely worth checking out. 1422 W. Colorado Blvd.,  Pasadena,

4. Euro Pane
I admit I had never been to this Pasadena foodie landmark until I embarked on my quest to find a good scone. I’ve heard their croissants are heavenly, but I was not completely won over by the scones. They’re not bad tasting, but my ginger scone was more like a large cookie. But though the consistency disappointed, it was definitely full of flavor. 950 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena.

5. Butter Tart
This wonderful little bakery just opened and needs to be discovered. So go check it out! Although the scones were a bit too dense for my tastes, everything else is fantastic; definitely try the cupcakes. It has a great atmosphere, particularly nice lighting, good tea and some of the most adorable indie baristas in the area. 4126 Verdugo Rd., Highland Park,

6. Heirloom Bakery
The examples from this delightful little bakery in my hometown of South Pas fall prey to the second most common of American scone sins: too much baking powder. Perhaps my tongue is particularly sensitive, but I find this to be a consistent problem with U.S. scones. Fortunately, the problem is minimized if you order the chocolate chip variety — when the perfect collision of scone and chocolate found its way into my judgmental mouth, I was pleased. Further proof that chocolate can fix almost anything. 807 Meridian Ave., South Pasadena.

The harder I seek the perfect scone, the more I understand just how hard it is to make. I haven’t gotten to every bakery I know about (for example, the classic Rose Tree Cottage just reopened and I haven’t had time to stop by), and I would love your input on any scones I’ve missed. I am still seeking that ethereal scone that haunts my memories and dreams. But seriously, giant ghost scones can be kind of intimidating, and I would love to find a way to put the dream to rest. So let us Anglophiles come together. Tea anyone?

— Skylar Sutton

6 Responses for “Scones”

  1. Robin says:

    It’s true, Rose Tea Garden scones are a bit of a trade off. I’ve gone for Orange Cranberry pretty consistently and it’s been rewardingly moist and delicious every time. Also gigantic.

  2. Skylar says:

    Yes, Americans seem to think scones are a massive item. I’m not quite sure of the reason. I’m glad you’ve found it a good little place, I’ve loved it for many years.

  3. Sandy Gillis says:

    Hey, check out Polkatots at 720 N. Lake Avenue, just north of Orange Grove, for really moist, tasty cupcakes! The nice proprietor changed the store’s name so their stickers still say “Polkadots.” Plus the shop is in kind of an icky strip mall. But the dozen tiny cupcakes we tried in the name of research were quite good! $1.50 each for those teeny tinies, or $16/dozen make them an occasional treat. Red devil-licious! Excellent buttercream frosting. Zingy lemon, fragrant banana. I forget the rest of the choices so I’ll have to go back and start over.

  4. Sandy Gillis says:

    Oops, I think I posted my comment with the wrong beautifully crafted review. Forgive me, it’s been a long day.

  5. Lisa Groening says:

    When I lived in Portland, home of the other big floral parade, the annual Rose Festival carnival featured scones filled with fresh berries from the Fisher Scone Wagon. They were warm from the oven and so good! Probably not at all authentic, but hey, it was Rose Festival. You can order Fisher scone mix online if you’re interested.

    Why does this excellent Hometown Pasadena site make me so homesick for Portland?

  6. colleen says:

    Ha, I’m trying to get up to Portland soon! Pasadena and Portland have many things in common, although they have better restaurants and bars, on average. Still, we’ve got it pretty good in our own rose city.



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