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Lovejoy’s Tea Room: Take time to relish the ritual

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A freshly baked scone is served with clotted cream and preserves at Lovejoy’s Tea Room in Ashland. Photo by Sarah Lemon.
A three-tired tower of treats is a centerpiece of the “queen’s tea” at Lovejoy’s Tea Room in Ashland. Photo by Sarah Lemon.
Petits fours and chocolate truffles conclude the high tea service at Lovejoy’s Tea Room in Ashland. Photo by Sarah Lemon.
A three-tired tower of treats is a centerpiece of the “queen’s tea” at Lovejoy’s Tea Room in Ashland. Photo by Sarah Lemon.
Classic tea sandwiches come in nine varieties at Lovejoy’s Tea Room in Ashland. Photo by Sarah Lemon.
A toasted crumpet comes with lemon curd at Lovejoy’s Tea Room in Ashland. Photo by Sarah Lemon.

A new Ashland eatery pours on the charm and kitsch with its traditional afternoon tea.

Mismatched china, shabby chic furniture, dozens of doilies, yards of chintz and all the accoutrements for a “grand afternoon tea service” fill Lovejoy’s Tea Room to the brim. Sister to establishments in San Francisco and Portland, Lovejoy’s opened last month in the former location of Liquid Assets Wine Bar and expanded options for high tea beloved in Britain and the Commonwealth.

My British friend and his wife were ideal companions for a Lovejoy’s foray, a fitting venue for toasting his recent retirement. We reserved a table for the “queen’s tea” on a weekend before Southern Oregon’s temperatures started soaring. Sipping our steaming “cuppas” on a deeply cushioned couch, we had no qualms about whiling away the afternoon.

Guests should allow plenty of time — at least an hour and a half — to relish the ritual of taking tea. Food arrives in several courses while teas themselves need to steep for several minutes before drinking. And finishing a couple of pots of tea — or three — takes some fortitude.

Each afforded an entire pot of tea, guests can elect to share with the entire table. Lady Gray was a collective favorite and our first choice from nearly 50 on Lovejoy’s list, organized by black teas, black flavored teas, decaffeinated teas, green and white teas, pu-erh teas and herbal tisanes.

For tea sandwiches, we likewise favored a sharable assortment: smoked salmon, deviled egg, “coronation” chicken, ham with sliced apple, artichoke hummus with arugula and chicken with apples, walnuts and cranberries. The only ones we omitted were classic cucumber, roast beef and cream cheese with strawberry preserves.

These, of course, are quintessential tea sandwiches, prepared on white bread with the crusts cut off. Gluten-free tea service is available for a $5 surcharge to the per-person price of $35 for the queen’s tea. And Lovejoy’s will accommodate allergies and other dietary needs with advance notice.

Fresh, seasonal fruit and organic mixed greens with Dijon-balsamic vinaigrette filled in the three-tiered tower delivered to our table. While the greens were a bit limp, the fruit was stunning — bright, juicy and of commendable variety. The more common melon, orange and grapes were a backdrop for strawberries, blueberries and kiwi.

The main attraction, though, was the sandwiches, bordering the bed of salad and interspersed with cucumber slices. Each filling was fresh, flavorful and finely textured, as genteel as the china teacups and saucers we filled with Lovejoy’s blend of Earl Gray and apricot teas.

To immerse ourselves more deeply in tea, we selected the Scottish caramel pu-erh as companion for the freshly baked scone and toasted crumpet. Clotted cream, lemon curd and raspberry preserves provided the requisite sweetness and richness. The fragrant, buttery brew from fermented tea leaves paired perfectly with the baked goods, conjuring nostalgia, even among customers who have never tried a traditional crumpet.

A side of two scones costs $12, and two crumpets are $9 for walk-in guests, who can order from the “Taste of Lovejoy’s” menu, which also offers tea sandwiches cut into quarters for $4.50 apiece and petits fours or truffles for $2.95. A “bottomless” pot of tea costs $10 (add $2 to share it), and attentive servers refresh the water whenever it runs low.

Our hostess conscientiously suggested clean teacups for our third tea, a slightly tangy herbal infusion of “forest berries” and rose hips that I hoped would cut through the sweets. My friends were game, although they’d have to forgo milk, which would curdle in this brew.

From a platter of petits fours and truffles, we singled out lemon, strawberry and Victorian vanilla. I was the only one who supplemented my bite-sized marzipan cake with a bittersweet chocolate truffle sprinkled with sea salt. While the herbal infusion indeed tempered the petits fours’ ultra sweet icing, the generously sized truffle would have been a better match on my palate with peppermint, chocolate raspberry or the obvious “chocolate truffle” tea.

These blends and all the accompaniments and accessories for a proper afternoon tea are available for purchase on the Lovejoy’s website, shoplovejoystearoom.com. Shipping is a flat $5 anywhere in the United States.

See lovejoystearoom-ashland.com for details about the tearoom at 96 N. Main St. No. 201. Reservations are available from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.

Lovejoy’s can host private events and parties of 18 to 25 people in its parlor, as well as smaller groups in its private room for an additional fee. “Wee” guests under age 10 can revel in the “princess” or “prince” tea services, which pare down portions, skip salad greens and substitute hot chocolate, by request, for tea. The cost is $30 per child.

Call 541-708-6718 or email info@LovejoysteaRoom-Ashland.com.

Tempo Tidbits

Global cuisines are creating buzz around Talent’s new food truck pod.

The Talent Pollinator Food Truck Pod plans its grand opening from 5 to 7 p.m. today. Sample bites will be available from each truck, and live music will set the mood.

Located at 115 W. Valley View Road, the pod is behind Talent Market and Liquor Store and Green Valley Wellness. Owned and created by Jeff and Melody Jones in 2018, the pod is adjacent to the Talent Pollinator Garden at the roundabout.

Authentic Jamaican jerk chicken, fried plantains and festival dumplings return to Talent with the resurrection of Stone’s Jamaican Roots & Juice. Owner Strickland Stone opened a food truck this month after his bricks-and-mortar restaurant burned in September’s Almeda fire.

Chinese-style crepes known as “jian bing” are specialties of The Eclectic Crepe. This street food combines egg, sesame seeds, scallions and a variety of sauces.

Martha’s serves street food inspired by Italy, Germany, Mexico and points beyond. Shaded picnic tables are in the pod’s future, and durable flatware for customers eating on site upholds the pod’s eco-friendly mission.

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A popular purveyor of cakes, pastries and “bubble tea” is rolling out a food truck.

Kdelicious announced the unveiling its “bakery truck” today at downtown Medford’s Bartlett Bites pod, 237 N. Bartlett St. Cakes and other baked goods will be available on the truck, which operates from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

Owner Katia Larios says she still plans to attend farmers markets Tuesdays and Saturdays in Ashland and Thursdays in Medford’s Hawthorne Park without the truck, which will serve at Bartlett Bites. The self-taught baker got her start in 2018 taking special orders at farmers markets. Kdelicious graduated to weddings and also sells its sweets and specialty beverages at some of the valley’s large, outdoor events.

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German food has returned to Jacksonville.

The Schoolhaus reopened last week after delaying its grand opening for nearly two weeks to repair kitchen equipment. The restaurant on Bigham Knoll inside Jacksonville’s historical school building restored original menu items, including schnitzel, sausages and pretzels with beer cheese, that distinguished it locally over much of the past decade.

“We have returned to our roots and are a hundred percent German,” says property co-owner Brooke Ashland.

Veteran kitchen staff are handling the German fare “beautifully,” says Ashland. Plenty of new faces in the dining room sport Bavarian-style garb. The Schoolhaus is open 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, until 9 p.m. Friday, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, until 8 p.m. Sunday.

While the restaurant updates its website, follow @schoolhausbrewhaus on Instagram or see facebook.com/BighamKnoll

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Have a Tempo tidbit to share? Email news about the local dining, food and beverage scene to: thewholedish@gmail.com

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Sarah Lemon has relished the Rogue Valley’s dining scene for nearly two decades as one of the original contributors to Tempo’s dining column. Her palate has helped to judge some of the region’s culinary competitions and festivals. The former editor of A la Carte, the Mail Tribune’s weekly food section, she writes a biweekly column, The Whole Dish, and blogs and podcasts under the same name. Listen at mailtribune.com/podcasts and read more at mailtribune.com/lifestyle/the-whole-dish. Follow @the.whole. dish on Instagram, @thewholedish on Twitter or see facebook.com/thewholedish.