Tuesday, May 4, 2010
TEA FOR TWO IN LAFAYETTE
Melia and I like to meet from time to time for a cup of tea and an hour to two of conversation.
We meet everywhere from Whole Foods, to Peet's, to one of our homes. We like to try new places.
And now that Tea Culture has been published, I feel I have an obligation to try more and more tea places because people are asking me for recommendations and advice on where to have tea and what kinds of tea to drink.
I had recently read about The French Bakery in Lafayette. It is located in the building that housed Lisa's Tea Treasures, another tea room, several years ago. What intrigued me about The French Bakery is that it sells baked goods as well as serving lunch and afternoon tea. Another intriguing feature is that included in its tea selection are several teas from Mariage Frères, the French tea company whose teas I adore and whose teas are not sold very extensively in the United States, at least not in places near me.
I must preface my description of our visit to The French Bakery by saying that I don't go out for a full afternoon tea service very often, mainly because, the offerings are more than I generally want to eat if I am having dinner that evening. And, at least at local tea houses, the full tea service frequently includes more sweets than I prefer.
So, in anticipation of Melia and my tea visit, I called ahead to The French Bakery to ask if we could simply order a cup of tea with maybe a pastry or two. The person on the phone told us we could do that but then confused me by saying that it was advisable to make a reservation for one of their seatings. I did not reserve, but told Melia that if this did not work out, we could go to one of the nearby cafés where we knew we could order a cup of tea.
When we arrived at The French Bakery on a Friday afternoon at 2 p.m., there was nary a customer in the place. In fact, while we looked at the pastries and some of the tea items on diplay, there wasn't even an employee there to talk to us.
After a few minutes, someone came out to greet us and offered to seat us. This being a warm day, we asked to sit outdoors on the patio rather than at one of the formally-set tables in the several small rooms indoors. We also told her we were just going to order tea and a pastry.
She was agreeable and said it would be just a minute while she set a table for us. Well, rather than the bare lawn furniture that we expected, she covered the outdoor table with a table cloth and set the table with cloth napkins, silverware, and china cups. Still wondering exactly what we had gotten ourselves into, we ordered a pot of Mariage Frères Red Marco Polo tea and a scone for me and a little berry cake for Melia.
Everything was lovely. Our server offered to warm my scone and, for a few dollars extra, serve it with clotted cream, strawberry jam, and lemon curd, each of which was served in a small ramekin.
We lingered over our tea for nearly two hours...a lovely way to relax and visit.
While we were the only customers for tea, we did notice a steady stream of people coming to buy baked goods from the bakery. Owner Lynn Appleton previously operated Pâtisserie Lafayette. At The French Bakery, she has combined her pastry shop with a tea room.
The Bakery serves lunch and afternoon tea/desserts. At the bakery counter there are a few informal tables for those who just stop in for a quick pastry and tea or even coffee. It is open every day but Monday from 11 a.m. (10 a.m. on Saturdays) until 5 p.m.