Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Glass Pheasant Tearoom

Sure, I'd seen the Glass Pheasant Tearoom before, tucked away snugly in yet another strip mall. As neither an aficionado of tea nor 'ladies who lunch', I'd never bothered to pop in. Then one day, my mom called for a weekday lunch date, and- guess where she wanted to eat?
We walked in around 11:30 a.m. to a very charming dining room, brimming with antiques, tea cosies, and about half full with an early lunch crowd. A server/hostess allowed us to select our table, which was set with beautiful tea cups and fresh flowers. The menu offerings are appropriately geared towards light lunch items and pastries. Quiches, regular salads, and a variety of lunch salads were in full effect.
There were only two servers/hostesses working the lunch, and it took longer than I anticipated before one worked her way back to our table. My mom ordered the Triple Salad Plate ($7.95), a sampler featuring the chicken, tuna and egg salads, along with a raspberry iced tea. I went with the grilled panini, and kept it simple with un-iced water.
We seemed to have arrived just in time; shortly every table was full, and the servers running to keep up. Even so, our meals were delivered in a reasonable amount of time, along with a basket of warmed sliced bread. The plates were beautifully arranged, very colorful and enticing. The salad sampler held a thick wedge of watermelon, a sprig of red grapes, baby carrots, sliced apple and an English cucumber. The main attraction sat in three generous scoops on a vividly green lettuce leaf. The tuna salad was nice and light; the egg salad followed along in a similar vein, refreshing and pleasing. The chicken salad was truly a stunner, brilliantly curry-yellow, yet subtle in flavor. Tender chunks of chicken, pineapple, celery and roasted peanuts came together in a surprisingly savory blend that begged repeat visits. Well, at least from my fork, until it was firmly swatted away.
My own plate held a similar array of colorful fruits and veggies, all crisp, fresh and sweet. The panini was stuffed to overflowing with turkey, Swiss cheese, tomato, sprouts and a delicious pesto mayonnaise. My only quibble here is that there was too much mayo, rendering the eating of this sandwich a most unlady-like affair. The combination of roasted meats, grilled bread and cheese, however, proved too much to resist; I flagged down our server for additional napkins, and all was well.
The sandwich also came paired with crunchy, sour-sweet pickles, and a handful of potato-skin style 'chips'. Both were wonderful, and as I discovered at the end of the meal, all homemade. In fact, everything except the bread was made in house, and all very well prepared.
This homemade touch extends to the croissants, tarts and scones, which beckoned from the front-of-house display case. Next time, I'll get some to go.
Chef/owner James Defigio has been at the helm for about a year and a half now. His focus on quality food is evident on every plate, and his adherence to 'keepin' it in the kitchen' is laudable. And in this case, smashingly successful.


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