Tina’s Traditional Tea Room & Tavern in Carmel, Indiana

One would expect to find authentic Queen’s Royal High Tea at Tina’s Traditional Tea Room & Tavern; but the heartier fare was a surprise. Yes, Tina’s Traditional Tea Room has English high tea, but she also serves meaty sausage rolls, ploughman’s platters, and Cornish pasties.

Location: Tina’s Traditional Tea Room & Tavern is at 30 North Range Line Road, in the Arts & Design District of Carmel, Indiana.

Menu: Tina is from Derbyshire England, and the menu reflects that. The recipes are Tina’s original family recipes, and she hasn’t Americanized them. You’ll find finger sandwiches, scones, and pastries as you would at high tea, as well as quiche, soups, and salads. Heartier British fare is also available, like the ploughman’s platter, English sausage rolls, and Cornish pasties. In addition to tea, you’ll find beer and wine too.

Gluten-free items are also available. One example is adapting the quiche to a crust-less quiche so that it becomes a gluten-free choice.

Thoughts:  The tea room sits in a white two-story house with colorful window trimming. The tea room’s décor has a fun British theme. Life-size cutouts of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Harry greet you upon entering. The top of the room trimmed in pendants, or bunting as the English say, of the British flag alternating with crowns adds to the British feel. You’ll find movie and book posters, like Mary Poppins and adorning the walls.

The table settings are pretty, with tables covered in white lace or brocade tablecloths. Each place setting has accents of gold or burgundy through the cloth napkins. White and gold, or burgundy chair covers adorn the chairs to complete a formal look. The mixture of patterns in the teacups and plates add to the interest.

Tina’s Traditional Tea Room serves caffeinated teas, like English Breakfast and Earl Grey, from the Camellia Sinensis Plant, as well as caffeine-free herbal and fruit teas. The tea room serves tea the traditional way in teapots, and each table has a timer to indicate when your type of tea finishes steeping. They use loose leaf tea put into a tea pocket so that you don’t have to contend with the loose tea in your cup.

The organic egg salad is the most popular item on the menu. It contains only organic hard-boiled eggs and Hellman’s mayonnaise. Simple and delicious.

In 1953, the Coronation chicken salad was created for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. The mixture starts with Spring greens, sliced grape tomatoes, sliced grapes, and English cucumber topped with Tina’s famous coronation chicken salad recipe. What makes this recipe unique is that Tina seasons it with a mild curry powder and adds dried cranberries.

Some of my favorite dishes are:

  • The Queen’s Royal High Tea served on a three-tiered cake stand. The lowest tier is a plate of finger sandwiches and other savories. The middle level has imported Devonshire clotted cream and house-made jams and jellies made from Tina’s grandmother’s recipes, served with freshly baked scones. While some say British scones are dry, the application of Devonshire clotted cream and jam makes them moist and flavorful. Finally, the top tier has a selection of seasonal pastries.
  • The Cornish Pasty is ground beef, carrots and potatoes in a house made shortcrust pastry. Peas and a boat of beef gravy accompany the dish.
  • The traditional British ploughman’s platter is a plate for sharing. On a wooden board, centered is a bed of greens mixed with colorful cucumbers, tomatoes, and sliced grapes with an accompanying vinaigrette. Adjacent to the salad are three types of cheese – Sage Derby with its bright green color coming from sage, a yellow Irish Cheddar, and an orange Cheddar. A crust-less quiche makes a perfect gluten-free morsel. The meat pie filled with spicy beef adds the right amount of spice to the plate. Served with butter, the two savory herb scones, flavored with a hint of sage and thyme, are moist and flavorful. Finally, crisp phyllo dough filled beef and pork, make the traditional British sausage roll. I choose the famous Taddy Porter over a cup of tea as the perfect accompaniment.
  • The Victoria sandwich cake, also called Victoria sponge cake, filled with a raspberry jam, is a cake without icing, and topped with real whipped cream.

Price Range: The Queen’s Royal High Tea is $29 per person. Heartier English entrees are $14 for a Cornish pasty, a sausage roll, or the British daily special. The quiche or salad of the day also runs $14. Sandwiches with a side run $12.

DisclosureThe author received a complimentary meal at Tina’s Traditional Tea Room & Tavern as part of an individually hosted press trip from Visit Hamilton County.

Amy Piper

Amy Piper is a freelance food and travel writer. She writes about food and multi-generational travel on her blog Follow the Piper. You can follow her on Twitter @amythepiper.

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