Word of Mouth

For holiday high tea, try the Denver Tea Room

We're into any social activity that involves eating and drinking, but something about the cozy traditional vibe of the holiday season makes us want to put on a fancy dress and head out to a high tea, where we can eat delicate cookies and drink English breakfast with our pinkies in the air.

Unfortunately, we're also the kind of people who wait until the absolute last second to make a reservation for anything, which means that the Brown Palace, with its Christmas-time high tea reservations that get snapped up a year in advance, is pretty much out of the question.

So over the weekend, we decided to check out the Denver Tea Room, 1820 East Colfax Avenue.

Located in one of the front rooms of a nineteenth-century mansion that now houses a bed and breakfast, the Denver Tea Room (no relation to the longtime Denver Tea Room atop the Denver Dry department store downtown) is popular for lazy, weekend English-style tea service and book clubs, which meet in the room at night for heady intellectual discussion over hot drinks and cookies.

But from November 20 until January 20, the place also serves a holiday high tea on linen-clothed tables -- or in a cozy, private parlor.

With never-empty teacups of a sweet, spicy holiday blend, we ate our way through a three-course affair, starting with tiny ramekins of shepherd's pie, savory beef combined with peas and carrots under a crust of smooth, whipped potatoes. A tea tray came next, the two-tiered platter bearing custardy quiche, turkey and cranberry finger sandwiches, and warm, buttery scones, served with clotted cream and jam. We finished with a ginger cake, sinking back into a velvety couch in the sunroom for a long conversation.

We might bring our relatives back -- or we might give them the slip and take solace in this peaceful spot for a few hours sometime in the next couple of weeks.

Reservations are required; call 303-550-4377.

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Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk