Laura’s Tea Room
Laura’s Tea Room | Ridgeway, SC
Let’s Have a Tea Party
Lesson learned. You are never too old to play dress-up with your friends. Ladies, this adventure is definitely on the girlie side, but we saw gentlemen on the day we visited, and those guys were having a fine time, too.
That said, here’s the scenario. Make reservations. Gather a few of your best girlfriends, or the book club, and head for Ridgeway, a tiny town about 20 miles north of Columbia that fairly oozes with Southern charm. You’ll walk into a charming gift shop and deli, but save that for after the tea. You’ll be sent upstairs, via the landing and cutout of Queen Elizabeth, suitable for photo fun. Pick out a hat if you didn’t wear your own. I wore my lovely little black straw, but must confess I looked longingly at the hats with veils. So sexy! You’ll find cloches, wide-brims, garden chapeaus, and a few, frankly strange concoctions. One will speak to you and, with the queen’s most realistic look of approval, you’ll head up from the landing to choose your cup and saucer from a dazzling variety. Properly equipped, you’ll be shown your table.
The tea will arrive first and it changes daily. Our adorable tea pot contained a blueberry hibiscus brew – delish! Our group ordered a black tea as well, which was well-liked by some. The first course was a salad, with strawberries. Next, we received a small, chilled cup of strawberry soup, plus a tiny lemon scone. After a rather lengthy pause, our tea sandwiches arrived, enough for six tidbits each. My favorite was turkey with pesto, but others preferred the tomato and pimiento cheese, or chicken salad. Another tiered tray arrived last, holding six sweets for each of us. The portions are tiny, but the volume ample for a full lunch. And if you don’t like something, simply pass.
The presentation was lovely, and the service measured. “We want you to slow down and relax,” our server said. A bit more than two hours after it started, we walked downstairs and shopped for tea, cookbooks, linens, serving platters and assorted delights – many locally made. I headed back to work, but my friends wandered Main Street and the antique shops. It was a very good day, indeed.
WOW Factor: the building, the presentation, and the tea. It really is perfectly brewed. You’ll step back in time and become one of those original ladies who lunch, at least for a bit.
Hint: Do not, we repeat, do not plan a visit to Laura’s Tea Room on a day when you’re short on time. They plan a long leisurely event and don’t turn the tables. You are told to allow two hours, and it takes every bit of that and more. Wear (or borrow) a hat. It just adds to the fun.
Learn more: www.laurastearoom.com
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