When I have taken a hiatus from blogging, I always wonder if I should start a post with what has been happening in my life. The short answer, summer, fun stuff, sick a couple of times, vacation, and more fun. I also started this new little venture, which you will be hearing more about in the future. All good things, with the exception of being sick.
With all of that fun going on, I am very sad to see the summer come to an end. However, labor day weekend has brought my sister into town, and that is always a good thing!
As any good sister should, I picked Debbie up from the airport and we headed directly to tea at the Boston Public Library (BPL). A little background, my sister and I are kind-of known for our afternoon tea adventures. Any trip we plan usually has something built around an obscure tea we found that we just had to try.
THE SETTING: I have been to the BPL for tea a handful of time now, and it is yet to disappoint. The library its self is a masterpiece, and as soon as you walk in you feel like you are on vacation. If you haven’t gone and wandered around the McKim building yet, do yourself a favor and head into Copley. You’re welcome. I digress….The Courtyard Restaurant overlooks the library’s courtyard. The restaurant’s white marble floors and window lined walls create a light, crisp, airy atmosphere that is second best to having tea in the courtyard itself.
This crisp theme is continued in the white whimsical china with silver polka-dots, and a fun pop of purple in the water goblets. It is the perfect setting for a tea. As is the service the perfect service for tea! Our server came right to our table to offer us our choice of tea.
THE TEA: If this experience falls short anywhere, it is in the not overly extensive tea list, with a lack of flavored black tea. However, the Wedding Tea (Elegant Mutan White tea, with a touch of lemon-vanilla to taste, pink rosebuds and petals) was good enough that no additional options were needed.
SERVICE: Whenever my sister and I go to tea, we always have some strange requests, how they are received is a great indicator of the service. My sister does not red meat or seafood, only chicken breast. You would think that subbing sandwiches for this restriction would be easy…unfortunately this is not always true. The second request is to have extra sandwiches in place of the desserts. What more sweets do you need than a scone with Devonshire cream and jam? We understand that this is not always that easy to do. However, our server handled both requests with ease and let us know she would do whatever she could to make this happen without batting an eyelash. A+ for service.
TEA SANDWICHES: The BPL is very generous with their sandwiches. I was served cucumber & boursin on rye, egg salad, smoked salmon with chive crème fraîche on pumpernickel, apricot chicken salad on wheat, turkey, cheddar & chutney on marble rye, crabmeat salad & avocado on lemon butter crust bun and tomato & crumbled bacon on white. The sandwiches were all delicious! But for me, the chicken salad and the tomato-bacon really stood out. The bacon was crispy and fresh, and the tomato was exactly what you would expect for the height of tomato season. These sandwiches were some of the best I have had at a tea.
SCONES: The BPL gets automatic bonus points for serving their scones with Devonshire double cream and apricot preserves…as they should be served! I only ate the plain scone, as I was too full to try the black currant one. However, it was light, flaky, buttery, and the perfect medium for lots and lots of the double cream! These scones were also the appropriate “medium” size. Not bite-sized and not enormous.
SUMMARY: We are very lucky to have so many great places for tea in Boston. However, the service, ambiance and food at the Boston Public Library shines above most of the big-named teas in the city. Just make sure to fill-out the online reservation form or they may not have room for you.
– Renee Hirschberg