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Emma's Rose Tea Room, St. Petersburg
Indeed, we shall, for a new St. Petersburg cafe offers just the right touch of elegance, tea and treats, savory and sweet.
By Laura Reiley, Times Food Critic
Published March 6, 2008
Emma's Rose Tea Room and Gift Shoppe 911 Central Ave., St. Petersburg (727) 895-2211 Cuisine: Tea; finger sandwiches, scones and more Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday Details: V, MC; reservations for royal tea; no alcohol Prices: sandwiches, $7.95; quiches, $8.50; sweets, $4.50; pot of tea, $3.50
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ST. PETERSBURG - The sixth edition Specialty Tea is "Hot" Report forecasts American tea sales will reach $10-billion by 2010 (we hovered near $5.1-billion in 2003 and a scant $1-billion in 1990). Maybe this new enthusiasm is because we're wising up to the health risks associated with soda and other beverages, or maybe the boomer bulge has just decided it enjoys a spot as it ages. I think it has as much to do with what tea represents.
It's an indulgence, a time out - but one that is supremely civilized, conjuring Trollope novels, paper-thin bone china and pinkies extended. St. Petersburg has a wonderful new place for just such an indulgence.
Owner Linda Davis has created a rarefied little world at Emma's Rose, one with a Victoriana giftware shop at the front and three themed dining rooms (I ate in the vividly colored Asian Room), one room stocked with froufrou tea hats you can don if the mood strikes. And the mood will strike. Chef Gabi Ford turns out to-die-for scones, baby quiches and finger sandwiches, all perfect foils for a fancy china pot of tea. Davis equips diners with hourglasslike "tea timers," the grains of sand ticking out the proper steep.
I watched my tea timer with one eye focused on a big group of ladies enjoying "royal tea" ($19 per person). Whooping it up in the Victorian Room, they giddily selected treats one by one from tiered plate stands. Still a treat, the "afternoon tea" ($10) is a less ambitious quantity of sweet and savory snacks, and the "sweet tea" ($8) brings just two of those heavenly scones (on my visit shot through with orange zest) with your bottomless pot of tea.
Ford herself is like something from a more refined era: She appears in the dining room in a pale pink chef jacket, a floppy pink beret perched atop, asking in a warm German accent about your well-being. Yes, after a fragrant cup of black currant tea and curried chicken salad on a flaky croissant, your being will be well.