The Lora and Claiborne Robins Tea House perches discreetly among the trees and grasses of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Lunch here might just be the perfect antidote to busy summer days spent grabbing a bite from the King O' Burgers drive-through. But this is not a venture for the faint of wallet. In order to get to the Tea House, you must pay the $5 admission fee to the garden. Then the least expensive lunch can be had for $7.50.
Included on the menu are the Tea House strawberry salad ($9.75), a smoked turkey-breast sandwich ($8.75) and some entrees including a grilled chicken breast Provencal ($13.75) and roasted tangerine Chilean sea bass ($14.95).
I ordered the special of the day ($13.95): spiced shrimp on a bed of mixed greens with a scoop of couscous and dressed with sun-dried tomato vinaigrette. Fifteen medium-sized chilled shrimp were subtly spiced with a toned-down Old Bay type of flavoring, and the salad was plentiful and very fresh.
My friend chose to start with a cup of the soup du jour, a corn and black bean chowder ($4) that was full of tomatoes and onions as well. For her main event, she ordered the grilled portobello sandwich ($9.25) with goat cheese and pesto served on a sun-dried tomato baguette.
Our waitress brought a dessert tray for us to view, and although the "chocolate confession" pie looked mighty sinful, we decided to share strawberry shortcake ($3.75) and did not regret it. Freshly whipped cream with a sprig of mint topped the layers of shortcake with perfectly ripened berries.
If your grandmother is in town or you've got a special guest in tow, a trip to the Tea House could cap off a lovely day of wandering among the gardens admiring the astounding variety of beauty.