If you want to take tea at the striking Queen Anne farmhouse that is Sweet Shalom Tea Room in Sylvania, make your reservations well in advance: Both Saturday seatings were sold out at the northwest Ohio spot when we called a week prior to our visit.
There’s no mystery to Sweet Shalom’s appeal. It lies in the mix of history and charm that are apparent when the 140-year-old house comes into view: The butter-yellow building with bay windows, tasteful touches of gingerbread trim and a white picket fence recalls a structure from a storybook. Inside, patrons pass through a gift shop that sells everything from quilted cozies to sugar tongs, and into two cozy Victorian dining rooms –– one papered in a bright-yellow floral pattern, the other in a more sedate red stripe, both adorned with lace curtains and reproductions of frosted-glass light fixtures, Here, servers in period dress seat visitors at tables set with an assortment of vintage china, place cards and individual menus.
Owners Chris Kruse and Sara Velasquez change the menu and entertainment with each month. May will focus on comfort foods, with such fare as homemade chicken-and-dumpling soup, chocolate-chip cookies and chocolate fudge cake, and even offering hand or shoulder massages –– the perfect present for Mother’s Day.
The meal started with a selection from a tea list headlined by Harney and Son’s Irish Breakfast and Malachi McCormick’s blends. We tried the house selah, a black tea flavored with orange and sweet ginger and served in a flowered teapot on a gold-filigreed warmer, then switched to a soothing peppermint tisane. Velasquez visited our table with a seemingly endless supply of food over a 90-minute period. Warm oat scones served with tiny glass containers of strawberry jam, Devon cream and a yummy lemon curd were followed by bowls of hearty cream of potato soup. Then came a three-tier tray laden with tasty cucumber sandwiches, squares of au gratin potatoes, Ceilidh cheese slices (a delicious quiche-like item topped with cheddar cheese and crumbled turkey bacon), servings of red-cabbage salad, cookies, bites of Irish whiskey cake and fruit bars.
By the time Velasquez delivered the final course –– generous pieces of pineapple upside-down cake topped with huge dollops of real whipped cream — we were so stuffed that we asked her to box them up for the ride back home. 8216 Erie St., Sylvania, 419/297-9919. www.sweetshalomtearoom.com
. –– LT