Stratoz had the fine idea to try the new tearoom for my birthday, The Village Teahouse in West Point, PA(Lansdale address). We have a history of going to tearooms at least 20 years, with Stratoz usually being the only man in the room, which doesn’t bother him because he enjoys taking tea. We used to go to Thyme for Tea in Lansdale, and were sad that it had closed, so it was a treat to visit The Village Teahouse. When I called to make a reservation, the woman on the other end said “Oh, you are a Margaret too.” The owner is Margaret Miley Shaffer.
The theme is Alice in Wonderland, and we were seated in the Mad Hatter Room. I was tempted by the tea with lavender and if it had been a black tea, I would have gone with it. Instead I tried the Wedding Tea, with rose petals, which was more frilly than I usually like, but when the server asked if I wanted more tea, I ordered the Oolong(which is what Stratoz had) which was more my speed.
The Full Tea started with a two tiered tray topped with scones and tea bread, lemon curd, cream, and fig jam. The tea sandwiches were a nice array for a bacontarian such as myself since there was a tasty variation on a BLT in miniature form, in addition to vegetarian options of egg salad, carrot salad on raisin bread, cucumber, and then Stratoz ate both roast beef sandwiches.
Dessert included banana cream tarts(which made me think it was Stratoz’ birthday since he enjoys bananas and I don’t ;-), but I ate both chocolate cherry cupcakes, followed with a lemon meringue tart and a chocolate dipped shortbread cookie shaped like a teabag.
In addition to satisfying my sweet tooth, The Village Teahouse is a Victorian designed by Milton Bean, Lansdale architect, in 1896. I had heard a talk by Drexel Librarian Leopold Montoya at the Lansdale Historical Society. Montoya became entranced with Bean when he discovered his house was designed by him, but little information was available, even though Bean designed over 1000 area homes and churches. Our house was built in 1900, so the The Village Teahouse had a 4 year head start on us.
The Village Teahouse opens in Upper Gwynedd article in North Penn Life, July 20, 2015. As we were leaving, the owner told us it was always nice to meet another Margaret. Even though she goes by Meg much of the time, she does have Margaret’s Late Day Tea on the menu, so she is Margaret approved.
L is for Lansdale, PA and the international restaurants within walking distance. It took Stratoz and me several years to find The Oasis Mediterranean Food & Pastry, even though it was in plain sight. One day we went for lunch and the owner was relieved to be able to return Stratoz’s hat. At one point, the owner told us, he had seen us walk by, but he is the sole server, and by the time he looked up, we were gone. My favorite dish is the Cauliflower Delight, which I haven’t seen anywhere else, with a tahini sauce. As a vegetarian, I have enjoyed the spinach pocket, rice pilaf with lentils and caramelized onions, tabouli salad, and stuffed grape leaves. [Edited 5/1/16 ~ Charles Cleaners was torn down, so that landmark for finding Oasis is gone.]
In our 15 years in Lansdale, we now have:
Vietnamese food at Saigon Main[edited 10/15 This is now Asian Legend. Some of the menu remains the same.]
Saigon has a vegetarian section of the menu, and the sweet and sour tofu soup is tangy with tomatoes and a vegetable that is similar to celery. The vegetarian spring rolls over vermicelli noodles, and the Vietnamese coffee with sweetened condensed milk make a fine meal.
Thai food at Nadia [edited 10/15 Sadly, Nadia lost their lease in Lansdale and is now in Willow Grove]
I like to go for the weekday lunch special. I love the Som Tam Thai Salad with cabbage, carrot, ground peanut and a citrus marinade.
I am playing the Friday Five at RevGalBlogPals on the theme of Corner Shops. Where I grew up in Edmonton, there were many corner stores, and I was intrigued by the array of goods, and the possibility that I could someday buy Key-Tab notebooks(we called them “scribblers” in Canada). When Stratoz and I moved to Southeast PA in 1997, we were deciding where to live, and my sister said Lansdale had a real Main Street, and indeed it did, and that’s where we’ve been ever since.
Edmonton’s equivalent of a Main Street for me was Whyte Avenue, in Strathcona, which used to be an actual town, annexed into Edmonton. I didn’t know that, just that there were shops in interesting buildings and I could easily walk from one to the next. When I moved to Bethlehem, PA in 1985, while my mother was attending Moravian Seminary, I was amazed at how a real Main Street brought in busloads of tourists!
1. If you suddenly received a ton of money and could open up some kind of store or service just for the pleasure of having it (assume it wouldn’t have to be too financially successful!), what would it be?
I have an online shop for my mosaics, Nutmeg Designs, and sometimes I wonder about having a physical store. Setting up for craft shows is exhausting and the idea of having a permanent home for our art is appealing, especially if I had this ton of money to ease the start up costs, but I love having a studio in my home, where making art is intrinsic to my life. There is something magical about making an entire environment for people to step into and become part of, and I can envision having a coffeeshop, where art is on the walls, and there is music and pastry.
Part of me is attracted to the idea that places we enjoy being, in which we have community, and use our senses to make connections with our world incarnate, could actually be financially successful. I heard the expression “showrooming” where people try something on, touch or otherwise experience an item, at a physical store and then go order it online for a lower price. Anyone who owns a yarn store knows about this phenomenon, and while there are times when a lower cost is important, I also do not want to make this my default way of shopping.
2. What service or store that no longer exists do you miss most?
I miss the Spice Smuggler in Lansdale. The owner retired, and it’s now a cell phone store, the original awning still remains. This shop had walls full of bulk spices in glass jars, tea, and gifts, and I always felt at ease asking those who worked there to measure out spices for me, because they loved and respected their customers.
Stratoz took this photo of a shop on Second Street in Lansdale, long since abandoned, and I know he’d love to walk to a stained glass store. Stained glass is a trial to photograph, and with art glass every sheet is different, even of the same kind, because art glass is handmade with swirls and ripples of color. Buying stained glass online is usually for emergencies when we need a particular color, and it’s a solid color. We were sad when Inspirations Stained Glass closed in Lower Providence, but Rainbow Arts and Crafts in E. Norriton stepped up and started a stained glass section in their store, for which we are very grateful. [Sadly they too have closed, but Colors of Glass has taken their place as of Summer 2015.]
3. What local business do you think you could make better if you were to take it over? And if you don’t mind sharing, what changes would you make?
I am going to reframe this in terms of what my favorite local businesses have in common. They know my name, what I like, are interested in what I do, are a positive force, and are reinventing themselves in order to respond to their customers. We are ecstatic that after seeing almost all our local bakeries close over the course of 10 years, but now we have Alice Bakery in North Wales and Ambler and Bakers on Broad in Souderton, we can always find deliciousness.
4. What spot nearby seems to be impossible for businesses to survive in?
There is a small tavern on a side street that went out of business, and there have been several pizza parlors, an ice cream shop and a youth drop in center which have not survived. The tavern drew people from the neighborhood, and it didn’t matter that it was on an isolated street. I am hopeful for the newest business there, Smoke Rack BBQ, because they sell BBQ and people will come a distance for good BBQ. [Now replaced by a pizza parlor yet again in 2014].
5. We’ve all seen stores that combined books and records, beer and laundry, or coffee and whatever. One of my favorite places to get coffee in Honolulu is a cafe and florist, and there is a car garage that’s also a diner in a town nearby. What would be a cool hybrid of two disparate ideas for somewhere you’d like to hang out?
Stratoz and I had a fine gourmet dinner at a French Restaurant in a bowling alley when we lived in Illinois. A typewriter repair shop in on Broad Street in Lansdale also sold honey that the owner collected from hives in the back of the shop. When we first started going out, Stratoz and I thought we’d like to run a Diner/Bookstore. We are regulars at Lansdale’s West Main Diner. If there was a bookstore next door, we’d be in heaven. We are happy though that the Pedaller Bike Shop moved in next to the West Main Diner.