Medicinal Pot

Written by Marilyn Hawkes Category: Three Bites Issue: December 2017
Group Free

Feeling peckish? Remedy the problem with one of the Valley’s afternoon tea experiences.

photo by Brian Goddard 

English Rose Tea Room
201 Easy St., Carefree
The highbrow English custom of afternoon tea is regarded as a novelty splurge by most Americans – but not by Jo Gemmill, a British expat who opened this Carefree tearoom 16 years ago because she “couldn’t find a decent cup [in Arizona].” Her Duchess of Bedford’s Formal Afternoon Tea ($28 per service, pictured) comes with a steaming pot of loose-leaf “char” (choose from 30 varieties) and the traditional three-tiered serving tray loaded with dainty finger sandwiches, including chicken laced with nutmeg and tarragon; two delightfully crumbly scones with strawberry preserves and luxurious Devon clotted cream (like a luxuriously thick butter); and a selection of delicate petit fours and chocolate-covered strawberries. The tearoom experience includes mismatched teacups dangling from crystal chandeliers and a photo op with the (cardboard) queen. “It’s a little glitzy, so it has that formality of tea at the Ritz, but it’s also like Grandma’s house,” Gemmill says.

The Spicery in Our 1895 Home
7141 N. 59th Ave., Glendale
Located in the historic Catlin Court area of downtown Glendale, this cozy shop serves a three-course tea ($23 per person) and lunch from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. every day except Sunday. In 2012, Matt Borowski took over the business from longtime owner Martha Campbell and has kept most of her traditions in place, from the buttermilk scones and ham biscuits to the coconut macaroons and matching teapots and teacups. “People don’t want (the menu and atmosphere) to change,” Borowski says. Servers bring out the tea courses separately, with detailed explanations of each bite. If you’re with a guest who doesn’t fancy tea, The Spicery has a small but suitable lunch menu that always features a hot special of the day “geared for gentlemen.” Afternoon tea requires a two-day advance reservation.  

The Phoenician
6000 E. Camelback Rd., Scottsdale
The Phoenician’s popular afternoon tea – a convenient and convivial affair held in the lobby – attracts not only hotel guests, but also tea-loving folks from across the Valley. In true English tradition, customers get a pot of loose-leaf tea (choice of black, herbal, white or green) and a first course of five elegant finger sandwiches, featuring the top-notch asparagus and garlic herb mousse with aged Parma ham. Next, enjoy executive pastry chef Roy Pell’s flaky, freshly baked cranberry scones followed by Pell’s tea pastries, including swoon-worthy dark chocolate profiteroles and Scottish shortbread ($42 weekdays, $49 weekends). Bonus: While eating, you get to listen to pianist Allen Comyns, who has been playing standards for afternoon tea since the resort opened in 1988. The Phoenician’s upgraded holiday tea ($70 weekdays, $75 weekends) will be offered this year November 24-December 30.