Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Sipping my almond raspberry tea and nibbling on coconut scones with clotted cream, it was easy to imagine I was in a small village in southern England, where I first experienced real Devonshire cream. It's hard to believe this lovely tea room is hidden away in an unimpressive strip mall of Virginia Beach!

It's not everyday you have an occasion to celebrate a 99th birthday. Our wonderful neighbor of more than twenty years, Elva Gerlach, turned 99 last week. She's been an adopted grandmother to me and my three brothers over the years, and we feel like she's part of the family. She's also been a special friend to my Grandma Jeter since she came to live with my parents. Elva is the only one of Grandma's friends around here who is anywhere close to her age, and the only one who can get away with calling her "Gertrude."

Today is also my mom's birthday, and so we decided to go out for a double birthday celebration. Since Grandma is still recovering from her hip surgery and it's very difficult to get in and out of a car, we asked a friend to come over and stay with her while my mom and Elva and I went out for an afternoon tea.

I never would have stumbled across The English Rose Tea Room if my mom hadn't seen it advertised in the paper. It's easy to miss, even if you're looking for it, tucked in next to a dental clinic and across from a dollar store. But once we stepped inside, it was easy to forget the somewhat drab outer appearance. Soothing instrumental music and cool pastel colors invited us to slow down and relax. A smiling hostess, bustling about clearing teacups and saucers, greeted us and led us to a quiet spot by the window.

Each of us had our own pot of tea. My mom chose the "Pucker Up Lemon" (or something to that effect), and Elva decided upon Orange Tangerine. The "Lite Lunch" had several options to choose from - soup, salad, 1/2 sandwich, fruit, pasta salad, and scones. The salad had fresh greens, mandarin oranges and feta cheese, with a light dressing that tasted like it might have been lemon poppyseed. There were coconut scones and cranberry/raisin scones, which were light and sweet. And the tea was wonderful, made to be enjoyed in small sips out of the delicate turquoise and gold or rose-patterned teacups.

The English Rose Tea Room is a lovely oasis from the frantic activity of everyday life, and I hope to return again soon!

Care For Some Tea?
English Rose Tea Room
Kempsville Plaza Shopping Center
404 S. Parliament Drive 103
Virginia Beach, VA 23462

(Open Tue - Sat, 11am - 4pm)