Friday, January 18, 2008

Tea Cozy Cottage Tea House

Tea Cozy Cottage
7664 Wooster Pike

Traditional afternoon tea is quite common in Great Britain but not so much in Greater Cincinnati, yet it is thriving at this quaint little cottage tucked away behind the long-vacant Heritage Restaurant on Wooster Pike. The Tea Cozy Cottage is one of the best-kept secrets in Cincinnati: it has been serving fully-booked sittings two weekends per month since its opening in 2005, yet most people are unaware that the tearoom even exists.

Tea Cozy Cottage

Part of the reason for its obscurity may be the location; the tiny house sits high above Wooster Pike and is somewhat hidden by the dilapidated Heritage, with whom it shares a parking lot. On top of that, vandals have twice stolen the Tea Cozy’s custom signage, which for a small independent business is costly to replace. Then there is the Heritage itself, which continues to sit empty and uninviting, making most passersby assume that nothing else is happening on the grounds.

Those who persevere and locate the little tea house, however, are in for an enjoyable and delicious afternoon of homemade soup, quiche, scones and savories while enjoying a pot or two of tea from a vast menu of options.

The bright and cheery tearoom

First things first: you MUST make reservations to attend a sitting. The Tea Cozy Cottage is indeed cozy, seating only 30 guests per service, and because many sittings sell out they cannot accommodate walk-ins. Proprietor Michelle Boyles will also need to be aware of any dietary restrictions in advance, so that she can plan accordingly.

On the day I phoned to book a reservation I was surprised and pleased to learn that the entire service that particular weekend was going to be vegetarian. It wasn’t listed as such on the web site, and the menu changes each weekend, but I took this to be a fortuitous sign that the experience was going to be enjoyable.

And it was. Upon entering the establishment each patron is guided to the cloak room to play dress up from a large trunk filled with vintage hats and gloves - reminiscent of childhood tea parties - then seated in the cheerful dining room. Michelle visits each table to inform guests of the day’s menu and help guide the uninitiated through the wide variety of teas, which includes over 70 varieties of Black, Decaf, Herbal, Green, Oolong, and White. My girlfriend chose Candy Apple black tea, which was bursting with caramel apple flavor, so much so that neither of us needed to add a lump of sugar to our cups. I chose Almond Vanilla white tea, which was a more delicate offering but nonetheless tasty, especially with an added splash of whole cream.

The soup course

The set menu began with a small bowl of roasted tomato soup, followed by a gorgeous quiche comprised of sweet potatoes and feta. The flaky golden crust was absolutely perfect and the quiche was bursting with flavor. Next up were delicious homemade raspberry scones with clotted cream, and a 3-tiered tea tray filled with scrumptious finger sandwiches, cheeses, fruit and sweets. On the day we visited, the finger sandwiches consisted of cucumber/cream cheese and baguette slices topped with tangy corn relish and Muenster cheese, while the sweets included cupcakes, tarts and spiced pumpkin mousse.

Yummy quiche

Three tiered tea tray

Although it may sound like a lot of food, it’s actually just enough to satisfy without ruining your dinner. It is the epitome of English afternoon tea, which is traditionally a light meal of snacks and sweets with a pot of pick-me-up, meant to stave off hunger until the evening’s main meal. It’s akin to the American version of a coffee break, but focuses more on actual relaxation and socializing. The Tea Cozy Cottage’s sittings run approximately two hours each - enough time to unwind, sample some good food and enjoy a nice cuppa while catching up with friends.

Tea Cozy Cottage on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Overpriced, pretentious and unfortunate. And that guy is extremely rude.

Veggie Option said...

Sorry you had a bad experience - I've had tea at the Tea Cozy Cottage several times and it has always been really nice and fun.

Aaron said...

I had an excellent experience at the Tea Cozy Cottage Tea House. The service was lovely, the food was quite tasty, and the tea was amazingly good. I'm looking forward to my next visit.

Splendid Little Stars said...

best tea of this type I have ever had! I've been there twice and am planning another outing. Michelle is lovely and makes you feel as if you are personally welcome in her home. The food is great! And the teas are endless. You order them by the pot for all to share--as many as you wish. Michelle also accommodated my vegetarian diet, so perhaps she will accommodate other dietary needs.
I cannot overstate that the food, as well as the tea, was great. Everything was perfectly delicious.
(I can only believe that the first writer is confusing this tearoom with another.)

Anonymous said...

I have been to the Tea Cozy Cottage many times and love to take family and friends from out of town. It is a great opportunity to actually have good conversation over a meal without feeling rushed or having to talk over others. The food is always amazing, with a variety of warm and cold soups, flaky quiche, the delicious scones and the sweet/savory tray. I really enjoy the white teas, and get a kick out of picking a different hat each time. I know that they can and do accommodate other dietary restrictions (gluten free, vegan once I believe, lactose intolerance). Michelle is so warm and open you can't help but smile back at her! I highly recommend the Tea Cozy!