Summer sips...

by - Saturday, July 13, 2013

Would you like an adventure now, or shall we have our tea first? ~ from Peter Pan
Both, at the same time, please! Yes, I want to step into the privileged world of Downton Abbey, sipping tea, swept away (albeit on a calm adventure) to a place relishing in Devonshire cream and lemon curd. This summer's vocation is to visit as many tea rooms the tri-state area has to offer, and I can tell you we have gotten off to a most pleasing start! “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”~ Henry James

Just ten minutes from one of our favorite places in NJ, the outdoor Shakespeare Theater, is the appropriately named Cosy Cupboard Tea Room nestled in Morristown's Convent Station. With the decorous mauve backdrop, stunning oil paintings, and dainty floral china, we felt especially pampered the minute our waiter escorted us to our table. Each place setting was properly attired with fastidious silverware, and we admired the walnut wood buffets while attending the menu options. Brenna and I decided to both experience the Prince Edward Island Grand Tea, an English tradition garnering a five-course serving. 

Our tea pots arrived, steeped to perfection, Brenna's strawberry infusion and my peach blossom. Beginning with soup, both the Italian Wedding and Tomato Basil were savory, you could taste the fresh ingredients, followed by a simple and flavorful salad of mesclun, cucumber, grape tomatoes, and homemade croutons with a splash of balsamic vinaigrette. We agreed our finger sandwich platters were one of the most extensive we have eaten thus far in our travels, with just the right serving each of chicken salad, egg salad, crab salad, cucumber with herb cheese, and turkey and cheese delightfully sweetened with a touch of strawberry jam. Our fourth course was a choice of scone - we both selected the iced lemon poppy seed - served with Devonshire cream and strawberry jam. To complete the meal, my lemon pound cake was tart and a little sweet, while the petite fours Brenna ordered were rich, but not overwhelming though enrobed in chocolate. Yum! We will most definitely visit the Cosy Cupboard again.

Just a stone's throw from our home in Westwood, New Jersey is the Harmony Tea Room. With their whimsical teapot chandelier and quaint mix of mismatched chairs and china, this tiny gem is a swift respite for our busy weekday bustle. As their website says - Relax, Reconnect, Rejuvenate. We called to make a quick reservation since the bitty tea room can get crowded quickly, and arrived to a colorful flora setting. All the menu options are cleverly named with a pot of tea and various courses, like Sereni-tea with scone, sandwiches and sweets, or a simple selection of sweets offered as Serendipi-tea.

On our few visits here, we have never been disappointed. The selection of teas include everything from green to black, with unique flavors and infusions. Each tea pot is kept warm with a floral quilted cosy once brought to the table, and Brenna and I often share our selections, swapping and sipping flavors. The seasonal salads combine fresh fruits and mixed baby greens, and their coconut scones are my flavorsome favorite accompanied by lemon curd, clotted cream and strawberry jam. Brenna loves their cucumber finger sandwiches the best served on petite cut bread with a spread of soft herb cheese, in a perfect balance of crisp and scrumptious. An added bonus - brunch served on the third Sunday of each month with egg and cheese strata or baked french toast. We need to stop by for brunch next!

Over the bridge and through the woods (well, okay, over the Tappan Zee and along tree-lined Broadway) is the Silver Tips Tea Room. After an early afternoon of shopping along the artsy main streets of Tarrytown, New York, Silver Tips is the perfect spot to recharge. Greeted with a bright and fresh interior of sunny yellow and pine, we chose a table near the window so we could admire the pretty flower boxes outside and easily glance at the shelves behind the front counter, lined with vast rows of green tins. The collection of teas is extensive and it took both Brenna and I some time to decide on which ones to try.

You can order a pot of tea by the number of cups - two, four or six - and there is a luncheon menu with a few desserts. We opted for two six-cup pots, and were surprised at the size, especially noting the larger teacups on the table. This was a lot of tea to drink! But we both managed each pot quite well. Brenna was a bit disappointed with her choice of the Phoenix tea, missing the honey, caramel and vanilla flavors as stated on the menu, and should have been served with a touch of milk. But my Hansel and Gretel green tea delivered the coconut and an under-note of almond with just the right balance. Since we had already eaten lunch earlier at home, we wanted to satisfy our sweet craving, so Brenna had a chocolate mousse and I ordered a vanilla and cherry parfait. The chocolate mousse was deceptively vanilla on the inside and a bit too sweet for her. My cherry vanilla dessert was sweet as well, but tart too, complimenting the green tea. We agreed to come back and try some other options on the menu since this was our first visit.

I saved one of the best for last... The Victorian Tea Room, above the Heights Flower Shop on the Boulevard in Hasbrouk Heights, New Jersey. We have visited the cafe twice, enjoying the festive ambiance, food and purveyor extraordinaire, Ray Vorisek. Reservations are a must with three petite rooms available upstairs, you are enveloped with the authentic Victorian colored decor and themed merchandise tucked all around you, awaiting to be discovered. Hats and feather boas are optional and conveniently available should the mood arise. During both visits here, Ray has served delightful fare, chatting with us about everything from high school to seasonal melon, with the charming familiarity of an old friend.

Brenna and I love to make the most of our time here, so we order the Royal Tea, a four course offering beginning with a pot of tea and scone served with clotted cream, preserves and lemon curd. The seasonal salad was a combination of baby greens with surprisingly crisp yellow mango spritzed with a signature raspberry vinaigrette. The finger sandwiches to follow were chicken salad, one egg salad and cucumber on a tiered tray with our assorted desserts to leisurely nibble. I must say, his desserts are really delicious and inventive. On our first visit, I remember we enjoyed miniature chocolate milkshakes served in antique sherry glasses, and this time, the frozen lemon squares were heavenly! 

The best offering is always Ray himself, sharing how he transformed a diamond-in-the-rough building into a fragrant and colorful florist shop on the street level with this hidden treasure above. He confessed to completing all the work himself, as painter, decorator, florist and now cook, creating a reality of his dream. His fun-loving spirit is inspiring, adding spice to the experience, and it is easy to understand why many bridal showers and girlfriend's rendezvous are held here. Ray tells all who come over, "What happens at the tea house, stays at the tea house!"
Well, we have a few more summer sips to enjoy. Stay tuned for part two... xoxo-Sonya

You May Also Like


© Copyright Sonya Marie Fitzmaurice - A little something... ® All rights reserved.