Monday, April 19, 2010
St. James Tea Room, Albuquerque, NM
The past few years, my sister and I treat each other either to fondue at the Melting Pot or afternoon tea at St. James Tea Room on our birthdays. This year when my "40 something" or other (mumble, mumble) birthday rolled around, I opted for tea.
Previously, the tea room had been an elegant surprise hidden in a very non-descript strip mall type of location, however, for the past several months, new construction and renovation of some old construction, were paving the way for it to move into a new location. Is it possible to improve upon perfection? Absolutely!
Upon entering the new spot for the first time, I was welcomed by the sight of a bakery case holding St. James signature scones and a small selection of other equally delicious looking delicacies. The opposite wall showcased a vast assortment of loose teas. Just past the entrance, additional cozy rooms held treasures available for purchase consisting of lovely cards, books, and assorted tea themed accessories. Another wall featured fine tea pots, and cups and saucers proudly showing off their intricate designs and delicate patterns.
When it was time to be seated, we were led down a hall consisting of beautiful arched doorways, each one made private with the elegant drape of a brocade curtain. This area was referred to as "The Nooks" and is designed to accommodate smaller parties. A peek inside each intimate alcove revealed a seating area finely decorated in lovely antiques, exquisite wallpapers, and lavish chandeliers, each room finished off with a perfect dash of European charm. Another area referred to as "The Library" is designed to comfortably accommodate larger parties.
Once we were seated, we were promptly greeted by Heather, our knowledgeable tea hostess for the afternoon. She explained in detail the nuances of our teas as she brought out each new steaming pot. She also reviewed our delicious assortment of savories, sandwiches, scones, and sweets with us, describing the ingredients and preparations for each tasty treat on the menu for the day. And with that, we were left to chat, enjoy our tea, and savor the delicacies that each carefully crafted tray held for us.
Once we had finished our last pot of tea, Heather appeared once more with lavender scented cloths. Another example of the painstaking attention to detail that has been considered for the orchestration of a perfect afternoon at the St. James Tea Room. Certainly a setting worthy of special occasions and everyday celebrations, alike. If you live in or around Albuquerque and have not experienced this treasure hidden in the Southwest, I highly encourage you to do so. If you come for a visit from out of town, don't put this destination on your "to do" list, instead put it on your "do not miss" list, and I promise, you'll not be disappointed.