Garden Café at the Visitor Center Pavilion: A Bit of Refinement ~ Afternoon Tea
Following our visit to the House Museum and the "Costumes of Downton Abbey " special exhibit, we had reservations for afternoon tea at the Garden Cafe in the Visitor Center Pavilion. Our timed reservation was for 3pm. Our shuttle bus from the House Museum took only minutes and we arrived at the Cafe slightly early. However, we were admitted to the Cafe since it was not busy and only a few tables were already occupied.
We were given a table with a nice view of the grounds, and shortly our period-costumed server appeared. The tables were wrapped in crisp, white linen cloths and topped with white crockery, and serving pieces. A gentleman came by to serve us a tiny, tiny portion of Cream of Cauliflower & Stilton Bisque which was excellent and I wished I had at least a cup of this delicious soup, if not a whole bowl. The rest was served buffet style, and we were directed to the savories table first (the "groaning table" for some) while our server filled our little teapots with hot water.
What delights we found on the savory table were interestingly different and we enjoyed virtually all that it offered:
Crème Fraiche Egg Salad on Poppy Seed Brioche with Sweet Pea Sprouts
Open Faced Lemon Cucumber Shrimp Sandwiches with Chive Cream Cheese
Buttermilk Semolina Tea Sandwich with Goat Cheese, Walnut & Roasted Pepper
Brandied Crab Salad on a Rice Cracker with Scallion & Charred Corn
Smoked Gouda & Pimento Cheese Roll Ups with Arugula
Mozzarella & Heirloom Cherry Tomato Skewers with Basil Balsamic
Warm Mixed Mushroom & Brie Strudel with a Sun-Dried Tomato Aioli
Crumbled Sausage & Roasted Vegetable Tartlettes with Fontina
Spinach & Hazelnut Stuffed Mushrooms
This was followed by a visit to the dessert table:
Raspberry & White Chocolate Miniature Scones
Buttermilk Raisin Miniature Scones
Whipped Butter, Orange Marmalade, Lemon Curd, English Country Cream
Du Pont Chocolate Mousse Tartlets
Cinnamon Shortbread Cookies
Berry Mousse Sugared Pastry Horns
I am a huge fan of almost any type of scone with clotted cream/other accompaniments, and the chocolate-dipped strawberries were wonderful. A close third were the little berry tartlets.
While the ambiance was quite nice, and the food and service excellent, I would say this afternoon tea could never be confused with a proper British "high tea." Lovely china was missing, tea was not the loose leaf variety and strained, and I don't believe the food would ever be served buffet style. That being said, we were given a nice variety of packaged teas and our tea pots were refilled with hot water constantly. I did very much appreciate being able to have seconds if desired especially since the tea was priced at $29.95 (2014 price) for adults, and children under 12 were charged only half.
We were in no way made to feel rushed, and my daughter and I had at least a wonderful hour together here. We could have returned to the museum or other galleries following our tea, but as it was already late afternoon and the House Museum closes at 5pm, we ended our visit here.
Reservations for tea are required and tickets are timed. The afternoon tea here is very popular, so check the website in advance for open dates since many are sold out. Reservations can be made online using the "Open Table Widget." Museum members receive a 10% discount.
Favorite Dish: My particular favorites were the Cream of Cauliflower & Stilton Bisque, the stuffed mushroom, and the crab salad was quite nice. Also, both the savory and dessert tartletts were excellent, and of course the scones!
Cottage Café: Time for a Break? Try This Airy Cafe
Whether before or after visiting the House Museum, Special Exhibits and Galleries, the "Cottage Cafe" is a very pleasant place to take a coffee break, have a light lunch, snack or even have a glass of wine. Recently redesigned, the Cottage Cafe is located in H. F. du Pont's Cottage (now the Museum Store) which the family occupied and used for sometime after opening his main home to the public as the Winterthur Museum, Gardens and Library.
Situated at the far end of the Museum Store in a modern, light and airy surrounding, the Cottage Cafe offers baked goods, smoothies, sandwiches, soups, salads, fresh fruit, gourmet coffee, and wine. The Cottage Café accommodates seating for 20 inside; however, if the weather is perfect, as it was when we peeked in, additional seating is available on the patio just outside. While there, take a moment to have a look at the framed friezes placed about the room, and the architectural plasterwork just inside above the entrance door.
I thought the staff in the Cafe, as well as in the Museum Store, were friendly. If you desire a more complete meal, the "Garden Café" at the Visitor Center will most likely be your preferred choice while at Winterthur.
Location: Museum Store
Hours: Tues. - Sun. 10am-4pm
Favorite Dish: The Cottage Cafe is nice for a break but we did not place an order here due to our 3pm reservations for afternoon tea at the Visitor Center Pavilion.
Cappuccino Café: Picnic or Snack
I don't remember the Cappuccino Cafe (but then again, I don't drink coffee, so I might not have paid attention to it) It is located near the museum entrance, the café features snacks, soup, sandwiches, and specialty drinks.
Tuesday-Friday, 8 am-4 pm
Saturday, 9 am-5 pm
Sunday 10 am-5 pm
As an alternative, ticketed visitors are welcome to picnic on-site. Tables are located at the Picnic House (next to the Visitor Parking Area) and on either side of the Galleries.
The Garden Cafeteria: Rose Garden
Because Winterthur has such extensive grounds, it is particularly good that there is some provision for eating lunch. Otherwise in the space between tours, there wouldn't be time to drive offsite to get something to eat.
Located in the Visitor Center, the Garden Cafeteria offers lunch, snacks, and Sunday Brunch.
10 am-4 pm (hot food 11 am-3 pm)
Sunday brunch: 10 am-2 pm
Favorite Dish: Since I was there in 1969, I don't remember what I had to eat.
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