Spill the Tea: There & Back Again Cafe

Last month was my birthday and unfortunately both my sister and best friend were unable to celebrate with me. We then decided to meet up a few weeks ago and have a girl’s weekend.

We went to Sacramento and were looking for a tea place to go to for lunch, really searching for a High Tea but willing to go to whatever tea place we could find. A quick google search and I found the There and Back Again Cafe a Lord of the Rings themed gamer cafe. Now we all love Lord of the Rings so it seemed the perfect place to go and celebrate.

The There & Back Again Cafe opened at the beginning of this year. It serves teas, coffees, hand pies, avocado toast, and “shire-cuterie” boards. They have 15 tables for gaming and a collection of board games, card games, and cooperative/group games. If you come and purchase food or drinks, having a gaming table is free (otherwise there is a $5 cover charge.)

All games are first come first serve, and patrons can also bring their own games if they wish.

They are open Tuesdays to Thursdays from 7:30 am – 3 pm; Fridays 10 am – 5 pm, and Saturdays they are open 8-3 for any customers, closing and then reopening 5-10:30 by registration only. They also hold special events that have a cover charge and are by reservation only.

Or dinner

Due to family commitments, traffic, lack of parking, meter issues, and the current construction in Sacramento we didn’t get to the cafe until after one and had only a couple hours before the shop closed.

The first thing we enjoyed was the ambience and the decorations in the cafe. Everything was exactly what a geek would love. They had such a variety of games, that we did not need to play any of the ones we had brought. We really enjoyed being in the cafe and playing a couple rounds of a new game, in fact I think we might have startled some of our more quiet neighbors with our joviality.

Then we went about ordering our drinks. The menu has a variety of regular coffees and teas for you to choose from; but is also home to geekier ones.

  • GROGU REFRESHER: A delicious twist on our favorite little green guy’s preferred snack. (lemon lime soda with a blueberry twist)
  • HALFLING GREEN APPLE TEA: Halflings agree, it’s a wonderful hot delight. (Sweetened with caramel, topped with steamed almond milk and cinnamon)
  • LIGHTBRINGER LAVENDER LEMONADE: In this dread hour, a warrior shall draw from the fire a delicious lemonade! Sweetened with Lavender syrup, truly refreshing.
  • POLYJUICE POTION: Magic juice. But not the kind that’ll leave you trippin’… we think… Peach Lemonade with a color-changing potion. Choose a potion from the magic spells box.
  • SYLVAN STRAWBERRY MATCHA: You can’t outrun destiny just because you’re terrified of it. (Iced matcha latte with strawberry puree & white chocolate drizzle)
  • MEILOORUN JUICE: Citrusy and tart yet sweet melon drink favoured by General Hera Syndulla and her comrades on the Ghost. (pineapple soda with fruit syrup)
  • X-WING Red Leader sure knows how to get into the air with this one! (energy drink with two shots of syrup of your choice) pwew pwew

I being a lover of Matcha, and it being a sweating Saturday, I of course had to try their Sylvan Strawberry Matcha. I thought the drink was very good extremely delicious, and I would definitely order it again.

So while I enjoyed the ambience and the drinks, the biggest issue I had with this cafe came to the food. Since I have been there the menu had changed, but when I went there on May 28th, they had only a few food options: Ham & Brie hand pies (which were unfortunately all sold out when we arrived), shirecuteries, avocado toast, and a vegan Avocado, Tomato & Basil Sandwich. As the three of us were all very hungry, and wanted something more substantial than a charcuterie board; we all decided to instead each order the Avocado, Tomato & Basil Sandwich with a caprese salad for $8.25 (although one of us had the for gluten-free one which was $11.25). However, instead of a sandwich we received a piece of toast with vegan mayonnaise, tomatoes, cucumber, basil, and sprouts. At least the other ladies did, as my order was just avocado and tomatoes on toast; I was not given any of the greens. We all were disappointed as we were expecting an actual “sandwich”, not toast, and an actual salad-not just sprouts on top. If it had been described as toast or an open faced sandwich we would have been expecting to see only one slice of bread, but as it was labeled sandwich we all expected a full sandwich.

My sister’s “sandwich”

My thoughts regarding the menu is that I strongly suggest the There and Back Again Cafe to add pictures to their ever fluctuating menu so that customers can have an idea of what to expect when ordering. As they have a fluid menu they wouldn’t have to include photos of every item, but I believe a few shots would be helpful.

As far as staff goes, the two that were working that day were helpful and very pleasant. Both were attentive and answered any questions we had regarding the drink menu. They did forgot to make my sandwich, but when they realized that, they apologized and brought me one as soon as they could. In a time where every business is struggling to find and keep good employees, this cafe has some great ones.

I definitely recommend going to the There and Back Again Cafe and enjoying their drinks with a game or two (I know I plan to go back for a game night/day with some friends). When it comes to their food, definitely give glance over the menu before heading to the cafe, to decide if the items described there are enough for you, or if you need to eat before.

For more tea cafe reviews, go to Spill the Tea: Caroline’s Coffee Roaster

For more tea posts, go to Teapot Card with Teabag

The Magician’s Nephew: Savory Meat Hand Pies

So every Wednesday, starting in October, I have been a part of a Tea Party/Bible Study/Book Club on The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis. This is different from my book club and the Book Club Picks I have been reviewing (and desperately need to catch up on). This week we had Cinnamon Bun Scones, Curry Egg Salad Triple Stack Sandwiches, Savory Beef Hand Pies, Cranberry Feta Pinwheels, and Melt-in-Your-Mouth Buttermilk Chocolate Cookies.

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I though it would be able to post these faster, but I have really fallen behind. I’m trying to catch up though!

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So my friend had made some meat pies a few weeks earlier and they were amazing! I begged and begged her for the recipe but she couldn’t give it to me as she didn’t really have a recipe. She just kind of throws things together.

So I instead went searching online and found a site called Longbourn Farm, and I was like “Longbourn”? Do you mean this Longbourn?

Pride and Prejudice’s Longbourn?

So of course I went with it. I ended up using my pie crust recipe from my apple pie recipe.

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Ingredients: Pie Crust

  • 2 Cups of All-Purpose flour
  • 1 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 3/4 Cup of Shortening
  • Ice Water

Filling:

  • 1.5 lbs of Ground Beef
  • 1 Cup of Chopped Onion
  • 3/4 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Ground Thyme
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Ground Oregano
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Paprika
  • 1 Cup of Grated Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Teaspoon of Water

Directions:

  1. In a mixing bowl, mix up the shortening and flour. Add in water, a tablespoon at a time until dough is more malleable. If you add too much and it is too liquid-y, then just add a bit more flour to firm it up.
  2. Put dough aside.
  3. In a medium frying pan on medium heat, add ground beef and spices.
  4. When ground beef is brown, about 8 mins, add onion.
  5. Cook until the Ground Beef is completely cooked through and the onoions are translucent.
  6. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
  7. Roll out pie dough and cut circles out of the pie crust, they should be about 4-6 inches in diameter. You can use a large cookie cutter or biscuit cutter or just trace a drinking glass if you don’t have a cutter.
  8. Divide the Ground Beef and cheese up evenly between the circles.
  9. Fold the circles in half and press the edges together gently. Crimp them firmly with a fork.
  10. Whisk the egg and water together.
  11. Brush the egg-water mixture onto each beef hand pie.
  12. Place the beef hand pies on a lined or greased sheet tray.
  13. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.

So these weren’t as good as my friend’s hand pies, but they were extremely delicious.

I did run out of pie dough though, and ended up having to buy more (I just bought the premade frozen ones).

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For more from The Magician’s Nephew Tea Party/Book Club, go to Cinnamon Bun Scones

For more recipes, go to Easy Fruit Tarts

For more pie recipes, go to Mini Apple Pies

For more tea posts, go to Brisket and Slaw Roulades