Sunday, November 24, 2019

The Dish on Dishington's: Lovely Tea Room in London, Ontario

Gathering for tea with "good family" at Dishington's

There's a  delightful tea room in London that Detroiters can drive to:   Dishington's

Of course, we're referring to London, Ontario. :)

You'll need an enhanced driver's license or a passport, but with just a short two-hour drive from southeastern Michigan,  you can have afternoon tea in another country. Dishington's is located in the Lambeth neighborhood of London and its unassuming, grey brick exterior belies the treasure of tea time treats you'll find inside.

Dishington's is located in the Lambeth neighborhood of London, Ontario

Once past the front foyer, the dining room displays a charming  balance of cheery elegance. The dark wainscoting is offset by white walls decorated with bright sconces and decorative posters. Rich-hued flower tablecloths provide a welcoming backdrop to the assorted china and tea fare.

Dishington's interior a charming balance of cheery elegance.

Dishington's began in 1981, the creation of Myrna Taylor, after she returned to Lambeth from a trip to England. Equipped with Wedgwood china and a mission, according to the tea room's website,  to have a gathering place "for people to enjoy life and celebrate good friends, good family and good food".

In 2008, Tami and Richard DeJonge purchased Dishington's and have been carrying on the tradition that Ms. Taylor started thirty years ago.

Joined by our good family (husband, Chris, my brother, Ed and his wife, Sandy) , we visited Dishington's the first week in October as part of our annual color tour of northern Michigan (and more!). This year, we drove up to Sault St. Marie and took the bridge to Manitoulin Island. From there, we ferried to Tobermory and then traveled to Stratford, taking in the "Merry Wives of Windsor" before our last stop in London.  (This is not the direct route, however, which would really only take two hours from Detroit!).

On the ferry to Tobermory
Many ways to get to Dishington's!

Dishington's was the perfect place to visit as our four-day excursion was concluding. We started our relaxing repast with a  pot of finely brewed tea, and then we dined on delicious soups, scones, sandwiches and  cake - all made on-site.

Delicious scones serve with Devonshire cream and strawberry rhubarb jam.

The scones were excellent and the fresh Devonshire cream and strawberry rhubarb jam that accompanied them were equally  scrumptious.  In addition to the tea and scones, our table ordered one of the turkey sandwiches with cranberry mayo and havarti cheese and  the squash soup - all nicely presented and very tasty.

A sign for dessert!

And, literally looking for a sign as to what to order for dessert, we saw a poster on one of the tea room walls that declares, "vegetables are a must. . . may we suggest the carrot cake".  Yes, you may and we did. An excellent choice.

Scrumptious carrot cake.

No matter how you get to Dishington's - plane, train, car or ferry - it's a great spot for afternoon tea.

And, that's the dish on Dishington's!


Friday, November 15, 2019

Afternoon tea (and more!) in Washington DC: A Capital idea!

Mrs. Gulley goes to Washington: a capital idea!

Mrs. Gulley goes to Washington. . . for afternoon tea and more!

Last month, my husband, Chris, and I visited our nation's capital - the first time for both of us since we were kids - and, after an incredible four-day tour of DC that included stops at the White House, the Capitol, Library of Congress and the Willard Hotel, we're already planning a return trip with the family in the Spring.

At the south wing of the Capitol.

Having a special connection, we were able to get a private tour of the Capitol and Library of Congress, both exceedingly impressive and, as one would imagine, filled with history. At the former, we walked passed the House Chamber in the south wing (where a vote was soon taking place!) and had a photo op in front of  one of Michigan's famous politicians, Lewis Cass (every state is represented by a statue of a renowned leader). Cass was  our state's second governor, a senator and secretary of state (and namesake for my husband's high school!).

Chris (a grad of Cass Tech) standing in front of Lewis Cass

A highlight (although it was all a highlight!) of our visit to the Library of Congress was a viewing of Thomas Jefferson's book collection. Amazing to stand in front of the books used by the third President of the United States.

And, to continue our connection with this national treasure, Chris and I secured two library cards (which we may use next Spring!).

Next up, a visit to the White House and all the colorful public rooms that we're familiar with: the Green Room, the Blue Room and the Red Room. I am particularly fond of dining rooms and, after seeing many palaces and Aristocratic homes of the rich and famous, the State Dining room was refreshing in its traditional, but not ostentatious, furnishings. 

The State Dining Room was once Thomas Jefferson's office, but it  turned into its current incarnation in 1809. With the help of a series of round tables, it can seat up to 140 guests for formal events. 

Of course, no trip to Washington D.C. is complete without afternoon tea! We made reservations as the Willard Hotel. Built in 1840 on Pennsylvania Avenue, it's a stone's throw from the White House and the National Mall. Its lobby is expansive and opulently decorated - the utmost in luxury. We learned, over a delightful pot of Earl Grey and delicious afternoon tea fare, that this hotel was a magnet for politicians and influencers and in the Willard's elaborate environs, the term  "lobbyist" was coined. (More on the Willard's afternoon tea in a future blog!)

Afternoon tea at the Willard Hotel with a famous foyer!

A capital idea to visit Washington D.C., indeed. Stay tuned for a future blog story on the Willard Hotel afternoon tea and another trip to our nation's capital in 2020. It won't require an act of congress to make it happen, but even so, we know someone who would approve it!

In front of the White House. Mrs. and Mr. Gulley went to Washington and had an awesome time!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Downton Abbey-Inspired Afternoon tea at the Townsend: Fun, fancy food, family, friends and fascinators!

Downton Abbey afternoon tea at the Townsend was well attended, including this special table with my favorite cousins!

The event that Downton Abbey fans have been waiting for finally arrived the weekend of September 20th:  The Downton Abbey movie premiere and the fancy tea events that are part of the celebration.  BTS was thrilled to be part of the Townsend Hotel's Downton Abbey tea, and equally as excited that my dearest cousins came to be part of it!

September 22nd, BTS presented a "Downton Abbey-inspired Afternoon Tea" program to a room of over fifty guests, many who came attired in DA-style dresses and hats.

One very special guest was Karri Brantley, of Karri Brantley Photography. She is the photographer for BTS' professional branding photos, and I'm delighted to share that one of those great pics was used by Tea Time Magazine. It's featured in Tea Time's "British Tea" special collector's issue that has an updated article of BTS' visit to the "real" Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle.

Our article on the visit to the "real" Downton Abbey featured in British Tea, photo by Karri Brantley Photography

We enjoyed the Townsend's always amazing afternoon tea fare of scones, savories and sweets served up last month with a special Downton Abbey decorated cupcake. It was easy to feel like one of the pampered Crawley's with such exquisite cuisine served by an outstanding wait staff in a dining room anchored by two sparkling crystal chandeliers. The only thing missing was Carson!

With special guests, including Karri Brantley, photographer, and her mom, Dianne

In addition to visiting with old friends, including Rachelle W. who brought her haute couture collection of fascinators and DA-era headbands, we also met many new friends who's DA enthusiasm was exceedingly delightful!

Rachelle W. with beautiful fascinators
Talking about the DA family and their real-life inspirations

Betsy Davis joined her good friend for tea, both looking so pretty in their fascinators, floral dresses and lace gloves.

Betsy Davis and her good friend enjoy DA afternoon tea in inspired attire!

Another beautiful and elegantly attired group - Pam, Nancy, Jill and Donna - also came donning hats, pearls and lace.  Mary Crawley move over, there are other DA fashionistas in town!

Pam, Nancy, Jill and Donna looking fashionably smart in elegant dresses and hats. Watch out Mary Crawley!

A truly amazing afternoon with family, friends and fascinators at the elegant Townsend Hotel in Birmingham!

We're hearing rumors that another Downton Abbey movie may be underway! I think that calls for another DA-inspired afternoon tea at the Townsend. See you there!

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Sew delightful: Afternoon tea with CAMEO's Quilters!

Barb & Rachel of BTS with Judy Murray, expert quilter and family, too!

Tea time with the ladies of CAMEO ("Come and Meet Each Other") is seamless seamstress event and we enjoyed every minute!

Last month, BTS presented "Tea and Etiquette" to a warm and oh-sew-talented group of ladies.  One of the CAMEO members is especially special to us, Judy Murray.  We're soon to be family (!) - Judy is the grandmother of my daughter's (Rachel) fiancé.

A variety of sweets and savories served buffet style with tea-time-inspired quilt as the backdrop

While we presented a brief history of tea along with proper afternoon tea protocol, the ladies of CAMEO dined on afternoon tea fare provided by the members themselves. Set up in buffet style, there was a great variety of delicious sweets and savories displayed attractively against the backdrop of a tea-time-inspired quilt.

CAMEO members getting ready for "afternoon tea" on a September evening

Each table was decorated by a CAMEO member. Judy's table donned a purple tablecloth that provided the perfect hue to set off her flower-accented tea set from Scotland (a souvenir from one her trips to Great Britain).

Each table was decorated in a different style

And, as only such a group could provide, a pretty, tiny quilted teapot decorated each place setting. (I now have mine resting comfortably on my kitchen table).

Judy Murray's lovely tea set from Scotland - a souvenir from one her trips to Great Britain.

 A great big thank you to Judy and her quilting group for inviting BTS to be part of your CAMEO kick off meeting in September.

My CAMEO tea time souvenir now resides on my kitchen table

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Afternoon tea fit for a princess: Ladurée in NYC where Meghan Markle came to visit!

Ladurée, where Meghan Markle came to tea 

When royalty and tea connect, it hits our radar - and, if possible, we find a way to be a part of it! Such is the case with Ladurée , the French restaurant in the Soho section of Manhattan, where Megan Markle visited last February and had tea and macarons. 

Just our luck (!),  we had planned a trip to New York this month to visit my son, Matt, who recently moved to the Big Apple to start graduate school. 

As noted in Harper's Bazaar, Meghan came to New York earlier in the year to attend a private baby shower in her honor on the upper east side. While here, she  made it a point to stop in at Ladurée  with a good friend for tea and macarons in a private space at the French restaurant.

When we stopped in at Ladurée  two weeks ago, our waiter confirmed Meghan had. indeed, visited in February and reported she was very down-to-earth.  He pointed to the private room where she had sipped tea and sampled macarons. 

It was worth the trip on that alone! But, add a delightful afternoon tea, outstanding macarons and a little bit of French history, and, nous avons touché le jackpot!

Before our visit, I did a little research on Laduree. According to its website, it began in 1862 as a French bakery in Paris,  founded by Louis Ernest Laduree.  In time, it received a facelift and transformed into a pastry shop and café, the latter venue  becoming very popular with the Paris elite. It was Laduree's wife, Jeanne Souchard, who had the idea of mixing the styles and, per the website,  it "gave birth to one of the first tea rooms in town. The 'salon de the' had the definite advantage over the cafes:  women could gather in complete freedom."

Laduree expanded to different locations in Paris, then abroad, coming to New York in 2011 and the Soho location in 2013. That's where we (and Meghan) had tea!

I knew there was a lot to like about this place. And we haven't even talked about the menu. . . . "

Afternoon tea is served every day at Laduree from 2:00 - 5:00 PM. Unfortunately, I had not zeroed in on the time and made reservations for 1:00. Amazingly empathetic to our plight, our waiter checked with the chef, and they were très accommodating. We had the full afternoon tea service, with one substitution: a salted roll in place of a madeleine. (The roll was so light, flavorful and delicious, I was not disappointed in the least!).

The tea fare included two tea sandwiches (I had smoked salmon and comte cheese - both scrumptious!),  a luxuriously sinful chocolate éclair, two guimauves (gourmet marshmallows) and the best macarons I have ever tasted. 

A slight disclaimer here - I like macarons, but I don't typically LOVE them. I have to say, Ladurees made me a fan:  j'adore the macaroons du Laduree. I brought home a dozen to share. (je regret, il n'ya plus rien!).

And a note to those who enjoy restaurants for more than afternoon tea, Laduree has a full menu for lunch and dinner and cocktails as well. My husband, Chris, who believes "when in  Rome. .  ." ordered up a Manhattan with his lunch. 

Deux pouce est en place  for Laduree - something  delicious and special for everyone!

More stories to come on our trip to NYC! STAY TUNED TO OUR BLOG FOR MORE ON THE BIG APPLE!! (you know, Gilded Age is part of it!)  

Au revior, mes amies!!

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Countdown to Downton Abbey: Join BTS for the movie premier and Townsend Tea!

The tiara has arrived in time for Downton Abbey movie weekend in September

It's been a long wait, but after  three long years, we Downton Abbey fanatics will once again be reunited with the upstairs and downstairs clan of that grand country estate across the pond.

My tiara arrived today, so I'm now set  for the weekend of September 20th. I hope you will join us in some amazing DA festivities.

Downton Abbey-inspired afternoon tea at the Townsend Hotel has a menu fit for royalty!

Come join us for a Downton Abbey-inspired afternoon tea event at the Townsend Hotel, Sunday, September 22. Check out this evenbrite link for more details:  Downton Abbey Tea at the Townsend, special guest, Barbara Gulley.  You MUST see what's on the menu - you'll feel like the royalty that comes to visit Downton Abbey!

We'll talk about our visit to the real Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle, our interview with the current countess of the family estate, Lady Carnarvon and  -  NEW! -  table manners and etiquette of DA.

Our visit to the "real Downton Abbey", Highclere Castle

And, for those of you who want to attend the movie premiere, September 20th, Barb's Tea Service has reserved a number of movie tickets for an evening showing at the Maple Theater in Bloomfield. We'll be donning our tiara's and gloves. If you want to be part of our fanatic, fun group, email us at  More details coming soon!

In the meantime, channel your inner-Violet/Mary/ Mrs. Patmore and let the countdown to Downton begin!!