Sunday, May 31, 2015

Finally, A Restaurant that Keeps Improving

[Click any of these photos for a full-sized view.]

We’ve all had the experience. A new restaurant opens nearby. We drop in for a meal. It’s Terrific! Nothing like it around. A welcome addition to the neighborhood. Great food; great service. Dining areas, parking lot, and even the restrooms all perfect. A new “great find.”

Months pass. Sometimes six. Sometimes as few as two. This “latest and greatest find” now isn’t quite what it used to be. Usually, the condition of the facility is the first to go. Not as neat and clean as it used to be. Then the service takes a hit. Finally, the once-legendary kitchen no longer produces those terrific dishes. Few survive.

Well, here’s one restaurant that’s only gotten better since the Allens, Carol, Kelly, and their dedicated crew, opened the doors in April 2008. Every month, it seems, brings a change. A new must-try dish on the menu; new blends of tea, perfectly brewed; a whole new look for the downstairs CafĂ© or upstairs Tea Room. That’s over seven years of improvement!

My wife and I have been enjoying lunch, tea, and even high tea, here since early 2009. We drive up from Columbia every chance we get, and we’ve yet to be disappointed.

After visiting for more than three years I mustered the courage to ask Carol Allen to sit for a CarolinaConsidered interview. She finally agreed. Click here for a listen and more photos. Carol explains the origins of the Tea Room and gives a few hints of her plans for its future.

Laura’s Tea Room has a new website. If you haven’t visited for a while go on over to for a look around. Julie Buffington has done a great job. Maybe I can persuade her to redo the CarolinaConsidered website one of these days.

Oh, and next time you visit the Tea Room be sure to add your e-mail to Carol’s list. Her posts are a great way to start your day. And, she provides up-to-the-minute news about Tea Room happenings. Including sales! There must be some way to sign up electronically, but I couldn’t find it.

So, there you have it. Finally, a restaurant that actually improves over time. In Ridgeway, South Carolina! 

Walking back up Palmer Street to the truck during our last visit I snapped the photo above. That’s in front of Emma and Lillie’s Cottage Goods. One of Ridgeway’s newest businesses. What a place! You’ll have to stop. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Mountain Laurel at Keowee Toxaway State Park in SC

This afternoon I took a walk along the Natural Bridge Trail here at Keowee-Toxaway State Park. To see the blooming mountain laurel. What a sight!

Here's a short video:

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

High Tea at Laura’s Tea Room, Ridgeway SC

Last week we had High Tea at Laura’s Tea Room in Ridgeway, South Carolina. Yes, “high tea” at Laura’s Tea Room deserves capital letters. It’s a remarkable experience. We visit Laura’s Tea Room in Ridgeway fairly often. But usually time permits only soup and a sandwich at the downstairs cafe. While that’s well worth a drive to Ridgeway, High Tea upstairs is nothing short of spectacular.
150204 Laura's Tea Room (2)
So, schedules cleared and reservations secured, up the stairs we went to the impressive second floor tea room proper. My wife selected a hat and sat down to chat with a special tearoom guest while we waited for our table. We’ve met her here before, but have been asked not to mention names …..
On Wednesday Carol Allen and her crackerjack staff provided a special menu. You can see it here on the right. High Tea Menu Chuck full of goodies. Click the small image to open it into a more readable size.
Can you imagine? “Cherry green iced tea”? I couldn’t. Fortunately my wife -- she of more eclectic taste -- gave it a try and encouraged me. Well! It was good. More than good, really. A perfect beginning for this special meal.
Now, if “Spring Cherry Green Iced Tea” hasn’t surprised you, check the “Pot of Mango Chili Tea” just below it. Mango Chili? Oh my. I had a cup. But Junko finished the rest. Even said she enjoyed it.
Now, I’m no fanatical consumer of salads. They’re fine. Usually. I’ll eat them when served. But mostly to be polite. All the while looking forward to more substantial offerings. Most sit-down-type restaurants start you off with some sort of salad. Ho hum.
saladWell, if you share my indifference to any dish that requires a “salad” label, click on the photo above. take a close look at the salad Laura’s Tea Room serves with High Tea. This was really good. The lettuce was fresh. Seriously fresh. As was everything else! So, when you go for High Tea, don’t ignore, or just pick at, the salad. It’s part of the experience.
Same with the soup. Perfect flavor. I can’t imagine that any part of that cup of soup ever saw the inside of a can. It sure didn’t taste like what I was raised on.
All of this leads up to the Main Event: Savories and Sweets. They’re listed on the menu above. Too many to summarize here. All sorts of things.
Savories and Sweets
You have to see it – and taste it – to believe it. Nothing there from a box. All prepared right in the Tea Room kitchen downstairs the night and morning before.
So, there you have it. If a confirmed meat-and-potatoes fellow like me can look forward to High Tea at Laura’s Tea Room it will suit anybody.
Sometimes it’s possible to get in for High Tea without a reservation, but not usually. Call ahead and let the staff know how many will be in your party.
Reservations are at 803-337-8594. And visit the Tea Room Facebook page by clicking here. Carol keeps it up to date.

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Winter Visit to Edisto Beach State Park SC


Edisto Beach State Park is about right for my tastes any time from about late November to early April. I know; I know. Normal people …. Well, Tastes vary. And I meet a surprising number of campers who visit Edisto only in the winter. So ….

The photo above is of the site of the Park’s Bache Monument out behind the Nature Center. An important historical marker. Named after a great-grandson of Benjamin Franklin. Alexander Bache invented the “bar of invariable length” that finally allowed accurate geographical measurements. Read all about it here.

Here’s a short video compilation of photos I’ve taken at and around Edisto during winter visits. Enjoy.

Should your web browser fail to display the video above properly, click here to go directly to the YouTube iteration.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Edisto Beach State Park in the Winter

South Carolina's Edisto Beach State Park is beautiful even on a rainy winter day.

Click each photo for a larger image

Just outside my campsite.

There's something about this place. Come have a look for yourselves.