A British tea room, as done in northeastern CT

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Ketteract
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2017/01/28 17:05:16 (permalink)

A British tea room, as done in northeastern CT

Shamefully, my only familiarity with the "Quiet Corner" of Connecticut had come from driving through it on my way to Boston or Providence.  I went a little ways toward correcting that today, with some exploration of the utterly gorgeous Woodstock area, which included a visit to Mrs. Bridges' Pantry.

I didn't get a shot of the exterior, so I'm borrowing someone else's photo for that, because it sets the tone for what you find inside.



Here's the outside board as it actually was today.  Their soup today was potato and bacon - just what I needed on a cold cloudy day.



We use the term "gem" a lot to describe certain establishments, but it's possible that nowhere earns it more than Mrs. Bridges' Pantry.  I've never seen a place more cozy and adorable.  Just look at this.







The enormous tea menu.  I chose Yorkshire Gold, which seems to be Taylors of Harrogate's signature tea.



I had it with some milk and sugar - something that I'd never put into tea before, but which I understand to be common in the UK.  It turned out to be some of the best tea I'd ever had.  Perhaps if I were a tea connoisseur, I would be better able to expound on the complex flavor.



The soup was appropriately rich and did not disappoint.



The Cornish pasty was every bit the savory comfort food that I wanted it to be, filled with beef, potato, rutabaga, and onion. I opted for the gravy, but it ended up being quite unnecessary.


 


Just a delightful presentation.



I don't really have much (well, anything) to compare this meal to, but all of it was charmingly presented and eminently satisfying.  This may be the oldest news ever, but the British sure as hell know what they're doing when it comes to tea, soup, and meat pies.  Modern Celtic music played in the background while I ate, and it added the perfect touch to a dining experience already full of atmosphere and culture.  I honestly can't recommend this place enough. 

(Note: it's right next to a couple of antique stores, and the splendid Bigelow Hollow State Park isn't too far away if you want a nice place to relax after eating.)
post edited by Ketteract - 2017/01/28 17:23:11
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    tmiles
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    Re: A British tea room, as done in northeastern CT 2017/01/28 17:59:13 (permalink)
    Thanks for a great report and pictures. When I was there about 10 yrs ago, I think it was more of a gift shop. Thanks to your post, I'll return.
    #2
    Ketteract
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    Re: A British tea room, as done in northeastern CT 2017/01/28 18:08:40 (permalink)
    Oh, did they not always have the dining area?  When I went, the shop seemed to be almost an afterthought.  Tables filled up with patrons as the afternoon went on - and some had British accents, which filled me with joy. 
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    ScreamingChicken
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    Re: A British tea room, as done in northeastern CT 2017/01/28 18:37:37 (permalink)
    Ketteract
    The Cornish pasty was every bit the savory comfort food that I wanted it to be, filled with beef, potato, rutabaga, and onion. I opted for the gravy, but it ended up being quite unnecessary.


    But you drank it anyway, right?
     
    Ketteract
    Tables filled up with patrons as the afternoon went on - and some had British accents, which filled me with joy. 

    No doubt making you homesick for the Quad Cities... 


    The soup and pasty look really good!
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    Ketteract
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    Re: A British tea room, as done in northeastern CT 2017/01/28 19:20:04 (permalink)
    Ha! Well, I did try the gravy, which was tasty enough, but such was the pasty's flavor that it truly needed no assistance.  I suppose I could've just gulped down the gravy, you know, done a shot of gravy, but I have to draw the line somewhere.
    post edited by Ketteract - 2017/01/29 07:58:49
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    Ketteract
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    Re: A British tea room, as done in northeastern CT 2017/01/29 08:06:55 (permalink)
    Included in their shop selection were:

    HP sauce
    Heinz salad cream
    PG Tips
    Jelly babies
    Wine gums
    Branston Pickle

    Any Roadfooders ever try any of these?  I've occasionally found HP Sauce and Branston Pickle in the international sections of grocery stores, but the other items, I'd only seen at the UK Gourmet specialty store in Bethel (formerly Newtown). Branston Pickle, I must say, is one of the best things to come out of the UK.  It's sweet, tangy, and crunchy, and perfect with some salty aged cheese like Cheshire or Cheddar (real Cheddar).
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    1bbqboy
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    Re: A British tea room, as done in northeastern CT 2017/01/29 10:10:57 (permalink)
    How have you never put milk and sugar in tea? Are you not a tea drinker? :)
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    Ketteract
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    Re: A British tea room, as done in northeastern CT 2017/01/29 11:03:36 (permalink)
    1bbqboy
    How have you never put milk and sugar in tea? Are you not a tea drinker? :)


    Drinker yes, connoisseur no. When I first learned of that British custom (by watching King Ralph a long time ago, actually - anyone remember that movie?), I thought it was strange, and when I suggested it to some friends they boggled at the idea, soooo I figured it wasn't common at all in the US.

    I grew up with basic stuff like Lipton or Bigelow, plus the Japanese teas that my mom would sometimes prepare (roasted rice tea, mmm!), neither of which seemed appropriate for milk and sugar. It wasn't until I moved to CT, with its handful of sanctuaries for British food, that I found myself re-examining this.
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    ann peeples
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    Re: A British tea room, as done in northeastern CT 2017/01/29 12:58:16 (permalink)
    What a charming experience!
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    Wintahaba
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    Re: A British tea room, as done in northeastern CT 2017/01/29 14:01:21 (permalink)
    Great discovery Neil. Great photos as always. I see on the menu they have PLOUGHMAN'S Lunch, which I love. They have a great version of that at Man of Kent http://manofkenttavern.com/#welcome in Hoosick Falls, NY near the Vermont border. A great spot if you are ever that way.
    #10
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