Nestled between two cafe competitors, it can be easy to miss if you don`t catch the easel sign out in front. While the food at Tea Time can vary a bit depending on who makes the sandwiches that day and what you order, the tiny tea room is worth a visit for its savories and cozy atmosphere.

If you are lucky and one of the owners is working when you arrive, you can count on cheery and attentive service that makes you feel welcome the moment you enter.

Opened in 2005, Tea Time was renovated and expanded in spring 2006 by co-owners Thao Nguyen and Tim Pham, who added an Asian flavor to the decor and some menu items.

Tea Time`s one-room dining area is filled with green and cream wicker chairs and bamboo tables, and the walls are soothing mauves, yellow and sea green. Local photographers display their art on one wall, while across the room floor-to-ceiling shelves show off beautiful tea pots, cups and accessories, all for sale. Two sidewalk tables are a great choice on a sunny day.

You`ll order at the counter and then choose your table. A server will bring place settings, your pots of tea and food orders.

Tea Time`s menu is an eclectic mix of traditional little English tea sandwiches, pastries, quiche and four "Oriental Tea Delights" that include dim sum bun chicken and barbecue pork. One entire page of the menu is dedicated

to crumpets with a variety of toppings. The Londoner is a simple nicely crisped crumpet (think English muffin but tastier), buttered and spread with jam.

Other selections range from the Klondike (sliced smoked salmon layered on cream cheese and topped with capers and dill) to the Monterey (crab salad topped with Monterey Jack cheese and grilled until it is bubbly). Crumpets range from $2.50 to $4.

My favorite Tea Time meal by far is a plate of three assorted tea sandwiches ($7.95) and a medium-size pot of second flush Darjeeling tea, a rich, delicious black tea that holds up just as well to lemon as it does to cream. While there are 10 sandwich choices, I have hands-down favorites.

A little rectangle of double-tiered egg salad is light and delicious, not overly laden with mayo. Fresh chives dot the top. Smoked salmon is settled over cream cheese and topped with a dollop of shiny black caviar, all on pumpernickel bread. Chicken-apple-pecan salad spreads over a heart-shaped single slice of brown bread, topped with a crunchy pecan. The threesome arrives on a large white dinner plate and is just filling enough for a light lunch.

Desserts at Tea Time vary, but a dense, layered chocolate cake satisfied even my chocoholic taste.

Don`t forget Tea Time come winter. The fireplace and little pots of tea with their colorful fabric tea cozies make a lovely rainy afternoon respite.

Tea Time

542 Ramona St., between University

and Hamilton, Palo Alto. (650) 328-2877,

www.tea-time.com.