Afternoon Tea at George Watts & Son
A charming bit of merry Ol' England in the heart of downtown Milwaukee, Watts Tea Shop is a secret worth sharing.
Tucked away on the second floor of George Watts & Son at 761 North Jefferson Street in downtown Milwaukee is the Watts Tea Shop where one can enjoy quintessentially English afternoon tea for $17.95 per person until 4 p.m.
Served in two courses, this dainty affaire consists of one’s choice of hot tea, freshly-brewed at the table, and a deceptively-light looking assortment of tasty finger sandwiches, cakes and pastries. We say it’s “deceptively-light” because, quite surprisingly, neither of us could finish the second course — a warm, cherry-lemon scone (a British/Irish sweet biscuit), a heavy bit of chocolate, flourless cake and a hefty slice of Watts’ rich Sunshine Cake — after consuming the initial round of delicate tuna-salad, cucumber-dill, chicken-salad and olive-tapenade finger sandwiches that came plated with a slice of watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew melon and pineapple held together in a little pyramid with a grape-topped, wooden skewer. It really doesn’t look like much for the price, but it was sorich and filling that we hardly had any room for supper that evening.
This is where we had lunch after our wedding rehearsal many years ago, and it hasn’t changed a bit since. Oddly, Mr. M. was one of only three men in the place, though it was packed (and one of the other two men present was the host). So it must apparently be far more popular with women. We guess that should be no surprise, after all, it’s above a china and dinnerware boutique!
The Watts Tea Shop is a full-service restaurant, and the afternoon tea is just one of many options on its sophisticated menu. Breakfast is served 7:30 to 9 a.m. by reservation only, and from 9 to 11 a.m. by reservation or open seating. The breakfast menu looks unique and inviting, featuring items priced between $8.95 and $15.95, like Macadamia Nut Croissant French Toast (croissant dipped in a blended egg batter of cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg, then topped with toasted macadamia nuts and served with fresh fruit and bacon) and Corned Beef Benedict (toasted English muffins “piled high” with homemade, corned beef hash, poached eggs and paprika Hollandaise sauce).
The luncheon entrées will run you anywhere between $12.95 and $16.95 for dishes like Classic Chicken Pot Pie (white meat chicken breast and garden vegetables under puff pastry, oven-baked until golden brown) and Hoison-Glazed Norwegian Salmon (Norwegian salmon filet in a ginger-hoison glaze served with citrus sticky rice and julienne vegetables). Entrées come with a choice of soup or salad.
Hot luncheon sandwiches served between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. include a Turkey, Ranch and Avocado Sandwich (thinly-sliced turkey breast, oven-roasted with Roma tomatoes and mozzarella served on homemade, whole wheat bread with sliced avocado, red onion and lettuce drizzled, with avocado-ranch, served with fruit) and Watts’ Tuna Melt (albacore tuna salad topped with a slice of fresh tomato and Cheddar cheese served atop Watts’ own English Muffin with seasonal fruit). The lunch sandwiches cost between $12.95 to $15.95.
The kid’s lunch menu runs $6.95 for a choice of grilled cheese sandwich with fresh fruit, penne pasta in a choice of Alfredo sauce, extra-virgin olive oil or simply buttered, peanut butter and jelly served with a side of fruit, or Fruit & Yogurt (seasonal fruit served with a petite cup of yogurt – too cute!).
Salads are offered daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and cost between $10.95 and $15.95. Options include the Strawberry Spinach Salad (freshly-sliced strawberries, avocado, red onion and baby spinach tossed in a Champagne vinaigrette with toasted pine nuts and gorgonzola cheese) and the Seared Norwegian Salmon Salad (salmon filet seared in a cast-iron skillet, served on mixed greens with sun-dried tomatoes, marinated artichokes and macadamias in cranberry vinaigrette).
Watts’ “Traditional Faire” is served daily 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and includes a number of sandwiches made on homemade, whole wheat bread, such as chicken salad, tuna salad, shaved ham, sliced chicken breast, roasted turkey and a B.L.T. These sandwiches are HUGE – you’ll be taking some home with you.
Soup Du Jour is $3.95 for a cup, $4.50 for a bowl. The afternoon we visited, it was a choice between Sweet Four Onion Fennel or Potato Miso.
Desserts, like the Sunshine Cake (the specialty, consisting of three-layered sponge cake with French-custard filling and seven-minute boiled frosting) are $6.95.
The Watts Tea Shop is located at 761 North Jefferson Street (2nd floor), Milwaukee. Contact them by phone at (800) 747-9288 or online at wattsteashop.com. Reservations recommended.
Mr. and Mrs. M recipe
Here’s our favorite short-cut recipe for classic, English cucumber sandwiches.
- 1, 8-oz. package cream cheese, room temperature
- 1, 7-oz packet of dry Italian salad-dressing mix, like Good Seasons
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 loaf sliced cocktail-sized, whole-wheat or rye bread
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled
- dried dill weed, to taste
- Cut the cucumber very thinly into round slices across the width. Set aside.
- Combine well the cream cheese, salad dressing and mayonnaise.
- Cover one side of each bread slice with the mixture, then lay a cucumber slice over the top and lightly sprinkle dried dill over the top.
- Serve chilled. Makes around 30 little sandwiches just perfect for afternoon tea (and picnics, family get-togethers, baby showers and the like)!
Note that you can prepare the spread ahead of time, but assemble the sandwiches no sooner than one hour before eating.