Munch goes to AntiquiTea

Munch usually frequents establishments more of the bottoms-up than the pinkies-up variety. But every now and then, Munch gets downright dainty. And so Munch and New Mom Friend of Munch (the artist formerly known as Pregnant Friend of Munch) found themselves at AntiquiTea in Ross.

AntiquiTea was voted the top tea house in Pennsylvania among 126 tea houses rated on Yes, Munch peruses tea Web sites in Munch's free time. Munch is comfortable with that.

Munch and NMFOM made reservations for a noontime afternoon tea ($22.95 per person, including tax and tip). Although the place was completely empty when Munch walked in, nearly every table was full before long. You might think, "Wow, maybe the place should expand," and Munch will get to that point in just one minute.

First, the tea. The afternoon tea comes with a pot per person, and Munch and NMFOM perused the extensive tea menu for so long that the exceptionally patient waitress had to return three times before they made a decision. Munch eventually chose the spiced ginger peach, and NMFOM picked the cariba ("tropical punch of mango, passionfruit, guava and more!").

Munch's tea was smooth and refreshing, while NMFOM's was sweet and unusual. It was served by people who seem to give tea an inordinate amount of thought and included pot warmers and foam rollers tied to the tea spout. The meal started with a first course of artichoke cream soup that was silky without being heavy.

Munch was then served an overwhelming but not insurmountable array of mini food items. There were tiny sandwiches, tiny muffins, tiny cake slices and tiny tarts. And there were a lot of them. Munch and NMFOM methodically worked their way from the bottom of the three-tiered serving tray to the top, consuming pimento-cheese sandwiches, salmon roll-ups, chicken salad sandwiches, ham and cheese puffs, scones with homemade lemon curd and clotted cream, pistachio muffins, chocolate cake, peach turnovers and a strawberry cream tart. Did Munch mention the sheer quantity of food? And that Munch ate it all? Sometimes, Munch walks a fine line between daintiness and piggishness.

There's also an a la carte menu available, where a pot of tea costs $1.95 and salads and sandwiches range from $4.95 to $9.95.

Munch and NMFOM spent well over an hour enjoying both their tea and their surroundings, which were cozy like Munch's grandmother's house but had edgier wallpaper and a pleasantly fruity smell. But about those decorations ... they won't be around for long.

Mother and daughter Patty Knouse and Nicole Freshwater opened AntiquiTea in the summer of 2006, and before long, demand exceeded their supply of empty seats. So the two decided to move to a new location a mile and a half down the road, which is scheduled to open this summer and will have twice the capacity and a large private room. The current location will close on April 15.

Munch looks forward to returning, even just for a pit stop where Munch tries the a la carte menu. Munch is already craving more of the nut- and grape-filled chicken salad sandwich.


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