When my brother and parents were in town for Thanksgiving, as an early Christmas celebration we took the girls to tea at the American Girl Bistro. They were so very excited, we got them out of school early. We also let them open some Christmas gifts from Uncle J. (I let them open all their gifts from him while he was here to see them.) Uncle J spoiled them! The girls were so surprised to see their gifts. Diva got Marie-Grace, Piglet got Bitty Twins and Pixie got a Bitty Baby. He also got them tons of accessories, clothing, books, it was a mini American Girl store in my living room.
The American Girl doll store in Tyson's Corner is actually in Virgina not in Washington DC. It's not far from DC though. It's at one of my favorite malls in the area. The store is not huge, it's a great size though. Not overwhelming and still has great variety. Everything a girl could want, and then some. The decor is true to the AG style. I love the store. The employees are friendly and helpful.
When we got to the Bistro we were a little early. So we sat around, the girls looked at more dolls and books. The staff was able to sit us 5 minutes earlier than our reservation time. Note about reservations- I made mine online since it was a big party. But each time I've gone there and have seen people ask about availability for smaller parties they have been able to wait to be seated. Still, I would make reservations. It's easy to do over the phone or online, and American Girl highly recommends them.
The Bistro was clean, roomy and of course there were doll chairs. I let the girls bring their new dolls. If you don't have a doll you can use one of the ones at the Bistro. I was also told on the phone that teddy bears and such were more than welcome. Once seated we were asked for drink orders. The waitress and manager came over to confirm Diva's nut allergy and let us know that nothing had nuts in it. (Awesome.) We all ordered tea, except Pixie. The girls got little books to color on while we waited. We waited about 20 minutes for our food to come. We used the cards provided on the table to ask each other questions and pass the time also.
The tea was just regular tea bags. What did I expect? Specialty tea. Seriously, I did. Not any tea I can buy a box of at Safeway. Maybe it's because one day I want to open a tea room- and detail is important to me. Making people feel like this is an amazing event that you want to keep in the back of your head for more celebrations and so on. Wouldn't little bags with the American Girl logo be cute? Moving on.
The food. :(. Oh the food, so much potential for American Girl to really set the standard for kid's tea parties. But it was just, there. It was any old food you could do at home. We ate, but there wasn't anything there that any of us said, "I have GOT to come back for more of this." I guess I understand that this is food that is geared towards kids and is "safe", as far as what a lot of kids will eat. But, I'm not one of those parents who will dumb down my kids palettes either. So the regular plain sandwiches or chicken nuggets are just blah "kid" foods. I understand picky eaters, I do. But you can still do awesome things with traditionally "safe" kids foods.
The sandwiches were regular variety sandwiches, the bread was store bought bread. Or it tasted like it and looked like it. The bagels were definitely store bought and not fresh. Which, I understand you can't always bake and make everything from scratch. But specialty ingredients, like breads aren't hard to come by. I did like the Rancho ham sandwich the best out of all of them.
Our service at tea started out wonderfully. They also mentioned that it was noted that someone in our party had a nut allergy and they took care of making sure we were nut free. But once our drink order was taken and we got our food we weren't checked on. We did wave our waitress down for drink refills, napkins and our check. It wasn't busy, there were empty tables, but it's a newer place.
So, that was tea at American Girl for us. The kids had fun, of course. That was important to me. They haven't asked to go back though. That may or may not be a good thing. Maybe the store is still new and they are working out staffing kinks and figuring out what works for them. I hope so. Because I would love for it to be a place I can take the girls on special occasions. This of course is just my opinion and people may feel very differently about their experiences.
Here is a menu taken off of the American Girl site, for tea in DC.
Bistro Sample Menus: Winter
Menus are representative only and are subject to change
The American Girls Tea®
Enjoy a special dining experience with a variety of dainty tea sandwiches and assorted sweet treats.
Your tea service also includes a pot of hot cocoa or tea.
Kaya’s fresh fruit kabobs
Marie-Grace and Cécile’s petite fruit muffins
Addy’s all-star turkey tea sandwich
Turkey, mayonaise, and provolone on a festive star-shaped tea sandwich
Josefina’s rancho ham sandwich
Ham with honey mustard and lettuce on a soft pretzel roll
Rebecca’s cucumber tea sandwich
A mini bagel with cream cheese and thinly sliced cucumbers
Kit’s garden party pink cupcake
Molly’s favorite brownie lollipop
Julie’s groovy Jell-O® Smile
Served weekdays 2 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.