“We started this because we wanted to do something at night, so we came up with these dinners,” explained Tim Lantrip. “It started with a former employee from South Africa. She steered us through the food and the culture for our first dinner. We had about fifteen people attend, and that was seven years ago. Since then they have almost always sold out, sometimes two to three months in advance!”
Most recently, in November the Tea Room hosted an entertaining and informative exploration into the JFK Assassination, which featured a skit presented by local actors, as well as appearances by Marilyn Monroe, Lyndon Johnson, and Jack Ruby.
“We like to do things that are very different and unique, things no one else does,” said Lantrip. “We are offering the experience.”
Christmas at the Tea Room
This December, the English Tea Room will again present its longest running and most popular themed dinners, the Nutcracker Christmas Teas and Teddy Bear Teas—both, unfortunately sold out at press time. A happy holiday dreamland, the Nutcracker Teas bring together dancing ballerinas, favorite holiday tunes, steaming teapots, and an appearance by the jolly old guy himself—all accompanied by a lavish high tea menu. Then, for an exclusive affair, the Tea Room’s Teddy Bear Teas invite children as the honored guests, plus their dolls and teddy bears of course, to a leisurely afternoon tea service featuring special Christmas treats.
On Christmas Eve, the English Tea Room will offer one last opportunity to meet and greet Santa Clause as he fuels up for the all-important sleigh ride ahead. Santa’s Breakfast Tea will take place the morning of December 24, giving both kids and their adults a chance to breakfast and take tea with the man in red. At the time of press, this event still had a few spots available—so snag ‘em while you can!
Teas to Come
Lantrip says that the Tea Room has plenty to look forward to in the new year, starting with the Robert Burns Scottish Dinner in January. A traditional Burns supper, the event celebrates the National Poet of Scotland with bagpipe performances by locally renowned bagpiper Steven Brownlee and poetry readings presented in the country’s vernacular. Scottish fare consisting of British imported boiled haggis and a Cock-a-leekie soup, made with sweet prunes, leeks, and rich chicken broth, will be served with Scottish tea pairings. Guests are also encouraged to bring their own scotch for group tasting, all in honor of the Bard of Ayrshire.
In February, the Tea Room’s Russian Dinner celebrates the Russian population of the area with a four-course dinner offering borscht soup, caviar and herring, vinaigrette salad, beef stroganoff, Russian bird cream and an array of Russian blended teas—all accompanied by speakers, musicians, and more. Then, the English Tea Room honors the month of romance with an entire week of Valentine’s Day High Teas. Whether they are celebrating with their sweethearts or simply loving on themselves, guests indulge in hot scones served with clotted butter and a three-tiered silver serving dish piled with decadent chocolate -covered strawberries, hot and cold savories of mini quiches, English sandwiches, and imported chocolates. The delicate, chocolate flavored Valentine’s Blend Tea pairs well with the bites and delights of the day. A long-stemmed handpicked rose will top off the celebratory teatime.
In March, fans of the PBS original series Downton Abbey will be drawn into the world of Yorkshire, featuring trivia and a dinner designed to replicate a true Crawley supper. A few weeks later, attendees will don their finest emerald attire for a St. Patricks Day Celebration, which coincides with Covington’s wildly popular St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Hot, saucy corned beef, flavorful baby carrots, boiled potatoes, cabbage, and a warm, savory scone with appropriately green-colored chai tea—served all day long—makes for a perfect parade-viewing pairing.
Each year in September, the Tea Room holds a special Jane Austin Dinner, channeling the Georgian-era with over-the top costumes and a literary program by a Jane Austen expert, plus plenty of chances to show off how well you know the great Mr. Darcy.
This next year will also see the English Tea Room’s first ever Sri Lankan Tea. “We always like to try new things,” said Lantrip. “One of our customers suggested Sri Lanka, so we will do it. And Sri Lanka is a major tea exporter of the world, along with China, India, and Africa.” In addition to the wildly popular Downton Abbey Dinners, a new Egypt/Downton Abbey-inspired tea is also in the works for 2020, which will focus on the show’s filming location, Highclere Castle’s, ties to the real-life Fifth Earl of Carnarvon, George Herbert, who famously discovered King Tut’s remains and allegedly suffered the Mummy’s Curse as a consequence. Fans of Downton Abbey and history buffs alike will want to book their trip to Covington’s makeshift Highclere Castle via the English Tea Room next year.
Lantrip said that the best way to experience the Tea Room’s dinners is to go all in, to dress up and immerse yourself in the story and culture of the evening. “You’ll leave knowing so much more about the country or theme than you ever have before,” he said. “We’re all about the experience and we recognize that customers want that, and that is why we add to the décor and to events. It never stays static.
“I’m so proud of our dinners, they have taken on a life of their own and I am always inspired to raise the bar.”