Turn off the peripheral vision and be ambushed by the rolling green lawns, gorgeous blooms, and the notion of cold soup. The city seems a hundred miles away. Detach. Chef Patrick Santillo at the Frick (thefrickpittsburgh.org) turns over the notion of afternoon tea to Frick pastry chef, Nadine Gindlesperger.
In the midst of research when he first took over the kitchen 2 1/2 years ago, he discovered that the term Victorian “high tea” was a misnomer; Victorian High Tea is only served after 5 o’clock. And so we’ve learned to say simply “afternoon tea” to be PC.
The chef plucks from his personal garden for fresh mint for your lemonade; basil, chives, eatable nasturtium. The elegant, three-tiered service of assorted house made finger foods, not the same old chicken and egg salad sandwiches, but small appetizers and a more varied selection of seasonal goodies, are just as good as they look: the middle tier filled with freshly baked scones with English clotted cream and strawberry jam; the bottom tier, a favorite, with assorted mini-pastries and chocolate.
Sip freshly brewed tea including a special blend created for the Frick by Harney & Sons out of Connecticut called simply The Frick Blend, including a nice selection of organic herbal teas, fancy coffee, fruit nectars, and the hip new Izze, favorite of our “granddishes.”
Thirty seats inside, 36 on the patio, with grand umbrellas if Pittsburgh black clouds seem to be following you, teasing with sudden summer bursts. Don’t forget to stroll over to the old Frick children’s playhouse turned gift shop, peek in Clayton’s garage museum at vintage autos and splendid old sleighs.
Royal Tea includes a glass of champagne. If you’re flying solo, there’s a simple basket of assorted scones with cream and jam for $7.
The day everything went wrong was the day Mr. Dish recuperated from wrangled nerves on the grounds of Clayton, noting the historical late robber baron’s estate. “In case I expire, I’ll have the feeling of dying a rich man,” goes his logic as he kicks back and takes in the luxury of the super rich circa 1890. He prefers Troegs JavaHead Stout, out of Harrisburg, PA while the rest of us sip our favorite tea.
Afternoon Tea at the Frick Cafe, Tues.-Sun. 2:30p.m.-5 p.m. 412-371-0600. thefrickpittsburgh.org.