Tuesday, March 3, 2009
tuesday, march 3, 2009
Post-tennis ladies tea anyone? Clearly I'm not the only one with a sweet tooth which strikes at any time of the day. No matter when I come here there are people checking out the desserts strategically positioned at the entrance of cafe latte. Today I was introduced to the "tea" served in the afternoon. After an hour and a half running around the courts four of us wiped ourselves off and ventured out for tea.
Let me digress a tiny bit, I normally wear sweat pants to and from tennis drill, ones that second as my painting pants and look like chipmunk cheeks when loaded down with tennis balls for practicing serves. I thought I'd make an exception this time since we had made this date for tea afterwards. My companions are a bit more well groomed shall we say. They have cute coordinated tennis skirts and the latest bags to tote their rackets and they change in and out of these outfits for tennis. They are very tactful and never make disparaging remarks about my choice of attire. The point is I changed into a sweater and slacks for their sake.
We positioned ourselves in the back of the restaurant and look over the tea menu to make a tea and pastry selection. By 1:30pm I'm more than a little hungry, and as always, the choices look decadent so I know I can't go wrong. We order at the counter where we can get a close up of our tart options, the mixed berry one makes my mouth water. The tea comes out in colorful cheery tea pots along with elegant cucumber cream cheese sandwiches, a scone, shortbread cookies and chocolate hearts! All for a reasonable price.
We linger for over an hour and get the added bonus of having the owner, Peter Quinn, drop by our table for a visit. He and or his wife Linda are usually in the place daily. One of the wonderful things about cafe latte is that it has a decor and feel that reflects their sense of style. The mix of casual and hip, comfort in food and atmosphere which reflects a personal touch.
This successful space is not something canned or bottled but something fresh and living, the difference between a generic place and a successful "third place", at least in my eyes. Another successful architectural element is the variety of seating venues or moods. These are like different rooms in a house and exercise the concept of "prospect and refuge" which Frank Lloyd Wright referred to in his designs. The notion that we need both kinds of places, those we hunker down in to feel safe and cosy and those that give us vistas to look out over and move thru even while inside or stationary. Victoria and Grand is "the" defining intersection of St.Paul's Grand Ave. It is what's known as the 100% position, that place everyone wants to be, ie. the kitchen door during a dinner party! The buffet line is a bit of an extension of this see and be seen atmosphere, however, you can also slide into a booth along side the pastries and spend hours alone with a book.The food is equally balanced, salads and soups craved as much as the desserts.
Our foursome broke up to meet children and head for home but we tasted a bit of England on a grey St. Paul day, something I highly recommend.