Tea drinkers rejoice! Your favorite hot and jittery cup of goodness has a cozy and relaxing home at Serenity Garden Tea House. This 1920's house is a tea mecca that has established itself in West Palm Beach over the last 15 years. But recently, Serenity has found itself under new management and with that, a new audience and additions, all while maintaining the original look and recipes.
Taking over at the helm is Audrey Farrelly, who is no stranger to the West Palm food and beverage scene. As a manager at O'Shea's Pub for a Guinness-filled 11 years, Farrelly learned how to build that community feeling that turns patrons into regulars and in the process, caught the entrepreneurial bug.
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"I would never have left O'shea's to work for anyone else." says Farrelly.
Ready to have her own business, Farrelly heard through the grapevine that the owner of Serenity Garden Tea House was looking to move on. Six weeks later, Farrelly become the owner of her first restaurant.
The beauty of her acquisition is she that is building on the 15 years of consistent customer base with the addition of all of the friends she made through her time at O'Shea's.
Serenity offers exactly the cute and calming atmosphere you'd imagine for a tea house -- light years away from the beers and Jameson shots at O'Shea's.
"If anyone comes in and says they are in a hurry, I'm like 'You need to go somewhere else'" says Farrelly. And that's not because of the food, which comes out quick. It's because this is not somewhere you want to go to when you are in a rush or feeling cranky. Farrelly takes pride in the special mindset Serenity induces.
"As soon as anyone walks in that front door, their shoulders drop and they turn into a nice person," she says. "They leave everything behind them."
But the star of the show isn't just the cottage feel or calming experience, it's the tea. The two-page tea menu offers a wide range of green, oolong, black, herbal, and white teas in addition to special blends (all $4.95 a pot). Farrelly has added some new additions, like the dessert friendly chocolate tea and a coconut pineapple flavored black tea that has a subtle but distinct flavor.
This isn't some Starbucks quick tea fix. This is real loose leaf tea delivered to your table in a traditional tea pot with the ultimate in koozies that keeps it hot throughout your entire dining experience. During High Tea ($19.50) you'll enjoy any pot of tea, a homemade soup, classic finger sandwiches, a bevy of miniature desert options with not-too-sweet cranberry orange scones that come with clotted cream and preserves. But the buck won't end there.
"I am going to expand high tea and make it different grades." says Farrelly. "[Including] one that requires 48 hours notice."
Have a bigger appetite? Serenity does lunch in a big way with salads, sandwiches and a special quiche of the day. Farrelly is sticking to the original recipes but splicing in some of her own ideas like the Smoked Salmon Salad ($12.50) that comes with thinly sliced smoked salmon, egg, onion, capers and homemade brown bread.
Serenity is open for supper on Friday and Saturdays with a reservation and a popular event destination due to the ability to rent out the entire restaurant which can hold about 50 people. A big supporter of local talent, Farelly is expanding her offerings past food into retail. There is room on the walls for local artists to display and will sell their work, as well as jewelry. But the big souvenir is loose leaf tea available for purchase every day of the week.
Serenity Garden Tea House is located at 316 Vallette Way in West Palm Beach. Call 561-655-3911 , or visit their Facebook page.
Open for lunch and afternoon tea Tuesday to Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and supper on Fridays and Saturday but you must call for reservation.