Dayton’s own hidden pearls of culture and class, the tearooms of Basically British and Twin Creek offer relaxing sophistication, delightful fares, and ornate gift shops for those seeking a mini-vacation away from the usual city scene. Either British or Victorian-themed, both of these endearing tearooms offer fresh luncheons, steaming pots of tea and delectable desserts served in the most traditional of fashions and the most comforting of settings.
Nixing the need to head “across the pond”, Basically British Tearoom and Shop serves up three-tier tea luncheons in Dayton’s own downtown. Terry Ronald, a native Englander from the town of Wallasey and Vicki Morris, Dayton-raised “Brit-at-heart”, own the British-influenced establishment. Originally opening in 1994 as a British Import Gift Shop that offered imported British candies, foods, teas and gifts, the shop has expanded to include a traditional British tearoom for anyone willing to make a reservation. Together the pair has charmed Daytonians by enticing visitors with imported tea, homemade cooking, and unrushed tranquility.
Basically British is located in the old building known as “The Cannery” at 502 East Third Street. High ceilings, deep hardwood floors, brick-laid walls, and elegant woodwork invites guests into a stylish yet invitingly “male-friendly” ambiance where, although roomy, reservations are a must. The tearoom of Basically British sets visitors up for a three-tier afternoon tea where each individual is granted a four-cup pot of freshly brewed tea from the 85 varieties offered on the in-house loose-leaf tea menu. The exotic tea varieties have not only been given international awards but each of the teas are available for by-the-ounce-purchase in order for your favorites to be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home.
To keep things interestingly unpredictable, the folks at Basically British change their lunch menu monthly in order to offer seasonal surprises that seem to never bore regulars. A few of October’s special offerings include a Woodland Fairy Acres spice island rose scone, an artichoke and mushroom-stuffed tomato and a maple cranberry cup.
Food is baked fresh everyday at Basically British and although a bit pricey for the typical “quick lunch” (at $22.95 plus tax per individual), the tearoom is meant to be an unhurried, peaceful and enjoyable experience. The goal of Basically British is to “to offer a tranquil setting for our adult patrons to enjoy” and thus, they do not allow infants or children under age ten among the tea patrons. Basically British serves tea Wednesday through Saturday from 11:30 am until 3 am. Their exotic Gift Shop is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 6 pm and Saturday 10 am to 5 pm.
A tad further down the streets at 19 East Dayton Street of West Alexandria, those seeking a more old-fashioned, Victorian style experience should try Twin Creek Tea Room and Ivy Parlor Gift Shop. Upon its original opening in 1993 by Melodie Dill and Pam Morneault as Twin Creek Town House Tea Room and Catering Company, visitors have eaten and sipped on the lower level tearoom and shopped at the upper level’s Ivy Parlor Gift Shop. The Ivy Parlor Gift Shop has now expanded to the entire upper level and since June of 2000, the initial owners of 19 East Dayton Street, Mark and Carolyn Ulrich, have run the tearoom and Ivy Parlor Gift Shop.
Twin Creek Tea Room is located in a restored Victorian era home where an enchanting atmosphere created by gracefully decorated tables, teapot candles, elaborate wicker chairs and romantic ambiance attracts visitors into a comfortablely elegant luncheon. The pleasant staff seems to genuinely care about the experience of the customers, offering friendly service, helpful suggestions and warm concern about the overall experience.
The menu of Twin Creek Tea Room is more extensive than that of Basically British’s and seems to offer larger portions for less expense. Twin Creek offers a variety of different menus, including the Summer Strawberry Sensations Menu, Weekly Lunch Specials, Panini Menu, Luncheon Menu, Children’s Menu, Specialty Coffee and Teas, Box Lunches, and Carry-Out Luncheon Combinations and Take-Out Items; all for under ten dollars. A few of many menu selections include a ham pimento cheese panini, fresh layered vegetable sandwich, petite sandwich sampler, daily quiches, chilled layered carrot cake and warm apple dumplings, just to name a few. In the less elaborate realm of beverage choice of the Twin Creek Tea Room, they offer rooibo teas, chai tea lattes, espresso and a variety of cappuccinos and sipping chocolates.
All are welcome at the Twin Creek Tea Room and although reservations are welcome, they are not required. Lunch is served Wednesdays through Saturday from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm but they offer private parties and catering upon request. Six times a year the tearoom takes reservations for Candlelight Dinners where dinner entrees change depending upon the occasion. The upcoming Sweetest Day Candlelight Dinner will be held on the 15th of October and the tearoom is currently taking reservations.
In terms of Dayton tearooms, Basically British and Twin Creek Tea Room each offer quite unique menu options, cultural ambiance and out-of-the-box lunch experiences for individuals, couples, and private parties alike. I would recommend both tearooms to the college student, curious adult and special occasion venue. As a wise lady by the name of Catherine Douzel once said, “Each cup of tea represents an imaginary voyage.” Go ahead, embark!