Adding a bit of whimsy into the Olde Mistick Village shopping center and amping up its already kid-friendly atmosphere, let yourself go into the looking glass at the recently opened Alice in the Village tea shop and café. The completely decked out exterior is replete with faux floral window frame and the beloved doorknob from the 1951 animated Disney film Alice in Wonderland. And is this uber-theme continued on the inside? Of course!
Step inside and you will find an enchanted tea house split roughly into three sections: Eat Me!/Drink Me! to go orders, an Alice-themed shop, and tea room. In addition to Alice in Wonderland collectables and kitsch, the shop section stocks an excellent selection of Harney and Sons teas. The bright green walls and sage green ceilings are decorated with hanging playing cards, pictures from Alice in Wonderland scenes, and flying books. My favorite décor element is the life size bottom half of Alice hanging down from the ceiling—any child who loves Alice in Wonderland would love a visit to Alice and the Village simply to see the décor.
Walking along the bold black and white tiled floor into the sectioned off tea room, guests will be pleased to see that the themed décor continues—although not quite as visually impactful as Alice hanging from the ceiling—with murals on the walls, fun chandeliers, playing card placemats, teapot décor, and a hat stand stocked with large hats in a rainbow of colors. Any guest could easily picture the Hatter, the March Hare, and the Cheshire Cat having their Mad Tea-Party here. As always though, the food is what we’re here for, so let’s dive into the goodies by joining these “mad” characters for a spot of afternoon tea.
By prior reservation only, Alice in the Village offers traditional British afternoon tea and high tea with three different themes currently available: Wonderland Afternoon Tea, Steampunk Summer High Tea, and Children Tea. Excellent for children, there is also the option for adding Nursery tea to the Wonderland Afternoon Tea or Children Tea experience, which is meant for young children who might be a bit pickier about their food and beverage choices.
As a lover of Steampunk fiction, I opted for the Steampunk Summer High Tea during my early afternoon visit. After selecting one of the many flavors of Harney and Sons tea, which was served piping hot in a polka dot pot, I reviewed the drinks menu while awaiting the serving of the three-tiered platter of goodness. The lavender bubble tea caught my eye, and I quickly added this to my order. To my surprise, a tall glass of frothy, rich bubble tea came out quickly and though I was a bit worried the lavender would be altogether too reminiscent of bathroom potpourri, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the flavor was subtle and the tapioca pearls were just the right consistency. In fact, this is the best bubble tea I’ve ever tasted, and that’s saying a lot since I drank my weight of the stuff when I lived in China.
Quickly following the receipt of my bubble tea, the tower of food arrived, with the traditional placement of the savories on the bottom level, the scones on the second level, and the delicate sweets at the top. Making my way from bottom to top, the selection included four traditional sandwiches such as chicken salad with cranberries and walnuts; the addition of a small antipasto salad was a great touch. The sandwiches were surprisingly generous, making this a great alternative to lunch; definitely don’t eat before arriving.
Moving up a tier, I enjoyed indulging in the chocolate chip and cinnamon scone, which was a great consistency and went perfectly with the whipped butter and strawberry jam. Saving, arguably, the best tier for last, I feasted my eyes on the dainty desserts including two macaroons, a shareable chocolate mousse cake, chocolate top hat filled with blueberries, and more. After munching some of the refreshing blueberries and savoring the shareable chocolate mousse cake, I was practically bursting at the seams. Concerned I wouldn’t be able to fit out the door, I had to give in and ask for the remainder of the desserts to be packed to go.
Though everything was delicious—and I’ll definitely return for more bubble tea—the steampunk theme didn’t shine through in the presentation or food, almost appearing as an afterthought with a pair of goggles and pocket watch adorning the plain tiered stand. Perhaps I had set my hopes too high, but considering steampunk fiction incorporates aspects of the Victorian times and fantastical advances in technology, I had hoped to at least see this creativity come through with a geared three-tiered tray. But don’t let this lack of detail turn you away from an afternoon tea experience or from stopping in for a Drink Me! bubble tea to go, because I’ll definitely be back, and I think you should visit too. And, if you’re looking for a fun, unique option for a children’s birthday party or sweet family outing, how could you go wrong with an Alice in Wonderland themed tea full of delectable treats?
You can learn more about Alice in the Village and make a reservation for an afternoon tea on their website: https://www.aliceinthevillage.net/.