Friday, January 1, 2010

A Bit of Respite from Black Friday

The BonBonerie
Cincinnati, Ohio
November 27, 2009
2ish pm

Ever since Erik and I started dating seriously enough that he would come home with me for Thanksgiving we have made Black Friday an event that includes a little shopping and a large dose of Cincinnati culture.  Each Friday we scour the ads and come up with a list of places we want to attempt to score deals from, and then we also come up with a list of fun Cincinnati landmarks to try and weave into our day.  Of course we also have to plan which wonderful restaurants we'll try to give us a small break from all the hustle and bustle of the start of beginning the holiday season.  Past years have included seeing the poinsettia display at the Krohn Conservatory, sampling one of the original 3-way creations at Camp Washington Chili, visiting the CG&E (err...I mean I mean Duke Energy) train display, walking around Fountain Square, etc. etc.  I think I look forward to this day just about as much as I look forward to Thanksgiving itself.  It's fun to relive some of my childhood Christmas memories with Erik, but it's also nice to explore what new things Cincinnati has to offer. 

This year we focused a little more on the shopping and a little less on the Cincinnati landmarks (my list of children to buy for seems to be growing and I must say by the time we made it to Toys R Us it looked like a DMZ zone)!  My mom had been raving about the BonBonerie for years and we decided today was the perfect opportunity to give it a try.  I had already sampled some of their expertly iced Christmas cookies that mom had brought home to share (and they were delish), but I was anxious to see what this quaint little tea room she talked of was truly all about. 

As we walked up to this hidden gem, the outside of the building looked like nothing special; but as soon as I entered I knew it was going to be good.  First off, it was around 2 in the afternoon; which is usually more of a downtime for an eating establishment; but the counter was packed.  Additionally, standing in line was a mix of ladies dressed in the season's finest to a group of firemen.  When a place has such wide range appeal, it's got to be good. 

Okay, maybe in this picture you don't see ladies in their finest or any fireman, for that matter; but I promise you they were there!  What was also there was a wonderful display case of cookies, tarts, tortes, cakes, pastries, etc. etc.  I had a very difficult time determining which sweet I wanted to try most. 

I opted to go with a chocolate mousse, with the idea I would share it with my husband (and when I say share I really mean he gets a max of 2 bites).  My mother went with more sugar cookies (she loves those things)!  We took our goodies to the tea room and were lucky that they had one small table available by the window.  I thought perhaps I'd save my mousse until after lunch; like a good little girl; but gosh darn it, it just looked too good (and it was too late in the afternoon for me to have enough will power to wait).  I dug right in. 
The mousse had a rich, deep chocolate flavor; but managed to keep its lightness in spite of the deep flavor.  The topping was a homemade sweetened cream.  Overall, this was a perfect mousse and I couldn't have asked for more for $3.75. 

As I enjoyed the mousse I started to go over the drink menu.  The tea list was quite extensive (which makes sense given this is a tea room), and I really wanted to give a less common one a try; but ultimately iced tea sounded best with the tuna sandwich I had decided on.  But, Erik decided to go with the orange spice tea, so I was glad I was going to be able to sample at least one of the hot tea choices.  Cherry vanilla, China rose petal, and mango tea were other interesting options. 

As we waited for our drinks and lunches to come out I had an opportunity to really take in the space.  Given the sophistication of the BonBonerie logo I had seen on my mom's cookie boxes and the typical connotations "afternoon tea" has, I was actually expecting something more formal.  I was pleasantly surprised by the casual coziness of this tearoom.  With the mismatched china, whimsical collection of tea pots (including one of Whinnie the Poo), and black and white checkered flooring I felt I was enjoying lunch at an eccentric and favorite aunt's house.  If I lived closer I imagined myself coming here on a rainy day to sit with a good book and enjoy a sweet treat with a hot pot of tea.  Maybe it's better on my waistline that I don't live so close :) 

Everything came out pretty quickly and we loved the extra touches of doilies under our plates, gherkins to nibble on, cookies paired with sandwiches.  All this extra attention to detail, along with the fresh and homemade foods; extended the cozy feeling of the place and made you feel like you were truly being taken care of here.  This is a feeling that, unfortunately, most restaurants in our fast paced "move 'em on through" society don't have. 
Erik really enjoyed his orange spice tea.  The aroma of citrus hits you and the spice warms you before you even take a sip.  The ice tea was also fresh brewed and excellent. 

For lunch Erik went with the ham and swiss sandwich paired with tomato soup.  The sandwich was good with fresh wheat bread, high quality ham, good cheese, piled high with tomato and greens, and then topped with a dill mayo so good even Erik ate it (he is known to prefer his sandwiches dry).  However, the highlight of the meal was the tomato soup.  It appeared to be homemade with chunks of tomato floating in it, which gave it a fresher taste.  It also had a nice mix of herbs and spices that complemented the fresh tomato flavor.  This was definitely not Campbell's (not that there's anything wrong with Campbell's, of course). 

My mother chose the tuna salad plate.  This came with a nice scoop of albacore tuna salad, with a mixed green salad topped with apple slices and raisins, and served with a balsamic vinaigrette.  No complaints here! 
I chose to go with the tuna salad sandwich (at least my mother and I didn't order exactly the same thing this time), which was fresh tuna salad on wheat bread with lettuce, tomato, and a smathering of dill mayo.  This was the best tuna salad sandwich I had had in a long time.  The sweet tea cookies ended the meal perfectly (and let's just forget I had already had my dessert of mousse)!

Ahhh....what a great break from holiday craziness!  I'm already working on planning when I can come back for an afternoon tea with friends. 

Bill Total:  Ham and swiss with a cup of soup, albacore tuna salad plate, tuna salad sandwich, pot of tea, Coke, hot tea, and tip:  $36

Extra chocolate mousse:  $3.75, my mom's cutout cookies ??? (she paid)

Overall Rating:  5 buckeyes 

The Bonbonerie & Tearoom on Urbanspoon

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