MOUNTAIN OAKS TEA ROOM
Address: 9508 Church St., Ooltewah
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; Saturday hours vary depending on private parties; closed Sunday-Monday
The English take high tea every afternoon. The traditional meal, said Sonya Guffey, owner of Mountain Oaks Tea Room, features scones, savory finger sandwiches, small desserts and, of course, tea.
“Taking tea is all about the experience,” she said, while arranging her custom small-bite creations on a multi-tier serving stand.
Food served during Mountain Oaks Tea Room’s high tea option is always made to order, so at least 24 hours’ notice is required. The tea sandwiches, scones and desserts are served with soup and tea. While the items served rotate, the meal’s foundations remain steadfast.
“You always start with scones, then the savory layer, then on to the desserts,” Sonya said.
On that particular day, Mountain Oaks’ high tea featured several scone flavors, including pistachio, served with fresh, house-made creme. Next came the finger foods: pimiento cheese sandwiches, basil egg salad sandwiches, chicken salad on croissants, cucumber on rye and more. Among the half-dozen small sweets, the crown jewel was easily the orange-blossom angel cake, made with orange-blossom water that Sonya found while visiting New Orleans.
“I can’t find it in Tennessee,” she said. “I spent the whole drive home coming up with this recipe — took me six hours. It’s so fragrant. And that’s what it’s about: the fragrance, the experience.”
Mountain Oaks is concocting a number of decadent experiences for May, beginning with Derby-inspired specials offered for the first half of the month: hot browns, cucumber sandwiches, “14 hands Kentucky Derby” pulled pork. Then, on Mother’s Day, it will host a by-reservation-only tea with a special menu.
Among Mountain Oaks’ unique china, fresh flowers and oil paintings, why not give Mom the gift of a delicious experience this year?