Friday, July 10, 2009

Tea at The Hyeholde

Yesterday, my friend L and I went out to (very belatedly) celebrate her birthday. Many years ago, once we both returned to Pittsburgh, we decided that it'd be nice to celebrate our birthdays by going out to dinner together. The birthday girl would choose the place, preferably a restaurant we had not yet tried, and the other would treat. Over the years, our birthday dinners have evolved into afternoon teas. We love the tea at The Hyeholde in Moon Township.

The Hyeholde offers a regular tea and a 'HyeTea.' 'HyeTea' is regular tea plus an additional small entree-like dish. We always opt for regular tea.

Usually, we are seated in front of the fireplace in the room on the end near the parking lot. In winter there is a wonderful roaring fire to keep us warm. No fire yesterday! The tea has changed a wee bit since we first started going. A couple of years ago, guests chose their tea by perusing a paper on which all the tea choices were printed. There were around 10-15 tea choices, including blacks, decafs, herbals, fruity, Chinese, and green teas. I always chose the special Hyeholde tea, a blend of orange, chocolate, & spice, if I recall correctly. This tea is no longer offered, which makes me rather sad. Yesterday, there were about 7 options, presented to you on a tray. There were 2 Chinese teas, a green tea, mint tea, Darjeeling, and regular & decaf Earl Grey teas. I'm a wee bit disappointed in the tea selection, though I suppose if I actually enjoyed Chinese oolongs or Japanese green teas, I'd be happier. I miss the special blend and the fruity options.
I chose Earl Grey. In the past, the tea was loose leaf. Now it's a tea bag. The server fills a white teapot with hot water and you add your teabag, let it steep as long as you like, and pour. I like that the teapot doesn't arrive with the tea already brewing - I like to control how long my tea steeps. The teapots have a lemon wedge next to them and there are a bowl of sugar & a small pitcher of cream on the table.

The first course is a plate of four savory goodies. Yesterday the goodies were: a salmon seviche style, a cucumber-radish sandwich, their handmade lamb sausage with a mustard sauce, and small vegetable spring rolls with a cucumber-cashew sauce on one side and a small strip of a BBQ-type sauce on the other side. In addition to not being fish eaters, L & I don't eat raw foods. In the past at tea, there has been a carpaccio and we always apologize and ask for the chef to cook it!! I know, that's horrible, but when you have a stomach that will reject the raw meat in 15 minutes and send you into the bathroom for half an hour, I think it's OK to 'ruin' the chef's carpaccio!!! Our wonderful server explained that the salmon was 'cooked' in lemon juice, but we weren't buying the cooked part, so we brought it home for SP, who loves this kind of food and was more than happy to eat it. He said the salmon was delicious.
The lamb sausage is amazing. So tasty. And spicy! I was a wee bit afraid of any garlic in it, so I ate one piece and brought the other piece home. I ate it as soon as I got home, sharing it with SP. It has a slight, smoky undertone, and spiciness, I thought maybe I tasted a smoky cinnamon or something like that - whatever is in it, it's terrific.
The cucumber sandwich was very thin bread toasted with thinly sliced cucumber and radish. Simple, yet delicious.The tiny spring rolls were also very good. I thought the lamb sausage was spicier, L thought the rolls were. The cucumber-dill sauce with chopped cashews on the side was yummy.
After the plate of savory treats comes the plate of scones. There were 4 small apricot scones nestled in a napkin on a plate, served with Devonshire cream and raspberry jam. Delicious. Along with the scones comes a plate of sweet treats. Yesterday there were three: A torte of very, very thin layers with espresso cream and a chocolate ganache on top, a tart shell filled with lemon curd topped with a raspberry and sprig of mint, and a small wedge of cheesecake. I especially liked the taste of the mint mixed with the lemon curd and tart shell. We slowly savored these delicious, rich, decadent sweet treats with several more cups of tea.
We never feel rushed at The Hyeholde. Service is very good - our server was fantastic, very friendly, very attentive, and terrific at explaining the treats to us. We had many, many cups of tea and talked and talked and it was wonderfully relaxing.

If you're looking for a place to have tea, The Hyeholde is definitely a good choice. Note that reservations are required.

The Hyeholde:

1 comment:

  1. Hi! Great to see another Pittsburgher!
    My best friend and I also do the dining out for birthdays thing, but we've missed both birthdays this year. Luckily, we have plans for Crepes Parisiennes soon! :)