Yesterday I stopped into Letty Mae’s Tea Room in Morris Illinois for lunch. It’s been a few years since I visited this tearoom and it was like coming home to Aunt Letty Mae’s. The decor is funky and quirky with just enough traditional items to make everyone comfortable. Inconveniently located at 112 E. Washington Street; to find it you must search it out down a walkway across from the courthouse. It can be difficult to find but so worth the effort. Situated in an older building with an attractive quirkiness, this tearoom has a charming vibe with window valances made from vintage hankies and vintage aprons hanging through the center of the main room. There are two levels inside the tearoom and a pleasant patio area available for seating outside in better weather. The day I visited, I chose to sit inside and am so glad I did. There was a freak summer shower that forced everyone to abandon the patio and come inside about 15 minutes after I was seated.
I went to lunch solo and was shown to a sweet table on the upper level along the railing. Even though I brought a book to read, I was quite pleased with my view of the lower level as it gave me something to occupy the time besides reading. The tearoom is decorated with an eclectic mix of tables and chairs painted in a myriad of colors that all work together with the vintage linens they use. Each table has a vintage table cloth with a glass topper. The menu is placed under the glass for easy reading. In addition, each table has a lamp and small centerpiece to add to the appealing ambiance. When you arrive your table is set with silverware rolled in a vintage print napkin and a vintage cup and saucer. All their teapots and dishes are a mix of vintage finds and mix perfectly with the vintage linens used throughout. It’s sort of like going to Grandma’s house; nothing matches and no one notices because it comfortable and steeped in love.
Their menu offers sandwiches, salads, soup and quiche plus sweets as well as a selection of loose leaf teas. The daily specials were listed near the door on a chalkboard made from an old wooden ironing board painted with chalkboard paint. My server, Mallory was perky and friendly. She explained the specials, deserts and available teas then gave me time to make up my mind. I asked her a question about the tea which she didn’t know the answer; she excused herself telling me she’d find out, and then returned with the tin of tea so I could look as the ingredients.
I chose the Caramelized Pear rooibos tea and Anna’s Asian Salad with a cinnamon muffin. The tea was served in a vintage pot originally made as a premium for Lipton tea drinkers in the 1940’s. They left the infuser and a drip-catcher cap in the pot so I could brew it my tea as strong as I wished. The tea was mildly sweet smelling with a hint of pear. I love anything pear. Mallory brought more hot water each time I asked and was attentive without being intrusive.
The salad was presented on a vintage platter. I looked around the tearoom and noticed that most meals were presented on vintage platters; quite an interesting look. The salad was delicious. Crispy bok choi and baby lettuces with chicken, red onions and a crispy topping made with almonds and fried noodles. The muffin was a cinnamon doughnut-type muffin, tossed in cinnamon sugar immediately after removing from the oven so that the cinnamon sugar created a crispy coating on the entire outer surface of a vanilla dough muffin; a rather unique muffin and quite delicious. Mallory came by to refill my pot and asked if I saved room for dessert. After that large salad I did not have room for anything else but those desserts looked yummy. And others in the tearoom were enjoying them very much.
The owner stopped by my table to see if everything was alright. I introduced myself and we had a quick chat comparing notes of owning tearooms. The tea shop was rather busy and she did not have too much time to devote to me but I completely understand. When it is busy, you just keep making sure everyone has tea and hopefully everyone is happy. She told me they just celebrated their sixth anniversary last month and I wished her well.
If you’d like more information about Letty Mae’s Tea Room; their Facebook page lists their daily specials and any upcoming events. For reservations their telephone number is: (815) 416-1370
Think of planning a shopping day with the girls? Morris has many antique and vintage shops, as well as a number of boutiques; enough to spend an entire day shopping and sharing. Letty Mae’s Tea Room is a delightful addition to the downtown Morris community and one of the best kept secrets of that charming town. I wish them every success in their next six years.