Friday night at the movies is a classic way to end the week and start the weekend. Especially after Thanksgiving. Which makes my choice of “Skyfall” at the AMC on the Third Street Promenade a tad bit ironic, considering that whole “the Pilgrims left England behind” motif of Thanksgiving.
But the fact is that on Black Friday, the promenade was a great place to be for people watching and I spent most of the day down there. I was keeping tabs on the rate of numbers of shopping bags that were being used, and based on my totally unscientific polling data — this shopping season is off to a great start.
The lines were long at a few stores. Brandy Melville was notable for its parade of teenage girls held in check only by a security guard and the limits of their fathers’ credit cards.
I was happy to see the return of shopping hordes to the stores, though I could do without the parking garage brain death and animosity that does seem to come with any surge in attendance. I admit that I was getting frustrated myself as people tried to circumvent the traffic patterns. There’s a reason why the parking police issue tickets for parking your car backwards. I think it has to do with the difficulty of backing in and the traffic delays it causes.
But back to my British weekend.
Daniel Craig and I had a date and I must say that he is definitely an excellent Bond and I enjoyed this latest installment immensely. In one scene Bond is on a rooftop, overlooking London and his lovely companion comments on what a fabulous view it is.
This scene triggered in me a memory of one of my favorite people — John Edward Robinson III. He was an American of the Anglophile variety. His knowledge of art and society was truly unparalleled. Years ago I was headed to London and John commanded, in a manner that can only be described as “the beneficial dictator” voice, “You simply must go to the National Portrait Gallery and have tea, it has the best views of London.”
So of course I went, and had a wonderful tea, and took some amazing photos of “the best views of London,” precisely as John had commanded.
John liked to entertain his friends with afternoon tea at the Tudor House, and it is a small consolation to those who loved him that it outlived him. He would be saddened greatly by its closing. This was a man who thought no good invention had come after the telephone, and he wasn’t so sure about that one either.
When the Tudor House closed there was no place in town to get a decent tea and some scones. That is until Ye Olde Kingshead reconfigured their back room into a small but delightful tearoom.
All of this coincided with my desire on Saturday for a proper English tea.
Walking into the backroom of Ye Olde Kingshead off of Arizona Avenue I was greeted by my old friend Christine. She used to serve John and I, and a thousand others, at Tudor House and it was like slipping on a comfortable old robe as she enveloped me in her delightful manner once again.
Being alone I ordered the tea for one, Earl Grey if you please, and in minutes there was a steaming pot of my favorite in front of me, and three levels of delightful afternoon treats.
The room is bright and cheery, and it matches the gaiety of Christine and her ever-present but not overpowering personality. She is seemingly always at hand for whatever I need but never intrudes upon my experience.
The tea was superb, and I dare say a tad bit better than at Tudor House. The scone was moister and the sandwich selection was excellent. Pastries are always a true test of a tea house for me, and the chocolate éclair was perfection, crisp pastry with whipped cream and chocolate that was not a waxy glob. The only rough spot was the quiche crust being a bit chewy — but I expect that to be corrected by the next time I pop in for tea.
Ye Old Kingshead tea is served Wednesday to Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. and I recommend it for those who are craving a bit of British civility and relaxed formality. Tell Christine I sent you. Well, me and the memory of John Edward Robinson III.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles divorce and child custody lawyer specializing in father’s and men’s rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra.