Monday, February 14, 2011

The Irvington Iris Tea Room is a-bloomin'.

The Irvington Iris Tea Room began serving tea, sandwiches, soups, and sweets last November as an outgrowth of the Bloomz Flower Shop. As the name of the tearoom implies, the shop is located in the Irvington neighborhood of Indianapolis just a few miles east of downtown on Washington St. The tearoom features loose-leaf, 100% organic teas from Peace Leaf Teas, but also serves soups and sandwiches during lunch. “Local” is the name of the game here because Miranda (the shop’s friendly owner/operator) tries to buy only food and drinks from local establishments and hopes that the tea room will be a gathering spot for her Irvington neighbors (hosting book clubs, game nights, writing groups, speakers, and so forth). The shop also displays and sells prints and original art by local artists.

The tearoom is housed in a brick-fronted strip mall on S. Audubon Rd. The interior of the space is decorated in a very traditional style with lots of floral prints, doilies, stained glass lamps, and fresh flowers on the tables. Basically, it’s the kind of environment where my mom and grandma would feel very comfortable. Yes, it’s girly, but that’s not necessarily a problem; this probably isn’t a place that “the guys” are going to want to go to get a brewski before the big game. It’s more of a space where you can go have a quiet cup of tea and relax.

The tearoom serves pots of tea from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Sandwiches include chicken salad; hummus, avocado, broccoli sprouts, and provolone; shaved turkey or ham with cheese; and grilled cheese, and come with a salad of fresh greens, seasonal fruit, and piece of tea bread. You can also add a cup of soup for an additional $2. Aside from lunches during the week, the shop also holds two reservation-only high teas (which includes a tower of sweet and savory treats) on Saturday afternoons, one at 2:30 and one at 4:30. You can request high tea service on other days of the week as well, if you make arrangements in advance. The shop always has a selection of sweets (scones, cookies, pies, and so forth) from Irvington’s Roll with It Bakery.

After you’re seated and place your order, you get to choose a teacup and saucer from a wide selection of China stored in a cabinet, which I thought was a nice personal touch. I chose the manliest teacup I could find, an unadorned black one. For my drink, I decided to be traditional and avoid the flavored teas, settling on a pot of the Belfast Blend black tea. The tea was brought to me in an antique-looking teapot so I could pour myself refills as I drained my cup. For lunch, I ordered the chicken salad on a buttery croissant, which was served to me with a small slice of banana bread, a lightly dressed salad, and a bowl of grapes. Everything was good, especially the chicken salad, which was laced with pecans, chunks of apples, and mandarin oranges. After eating my lunch and emptying my teapot, I was full, although I was certainly tempted to try a dessert. On the day I was there, Miranda had mandarin sponge cake, cherry pie, shortbread cookies, and sticky buns on offer. I ultimately decided not to have a sweet, but I kind of regret it. That sponge cake sounded really tasty….

One word of warning – the tearoom is a pretty small place with a minimal number of staff members. So, if you're planning on coming as a large group, you should probably call ahead to make sure they’re ready for you.

Irvington Iris Tea Room on Urbanspoon

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