Improvised 18th Century Afternoon Tea at City Tavern

Afternoon tea at the City Tavern, Philadelphia.
Afternoon tea at the City Tavern, Philadelphia.

I haven’t had much luck with stay-cations with the Pumpkin. Typically, we just hang around the house making strange noises/faces at each other because I always plan to take the time off way too late to actually put together some fun activities. And then, as the end looms, I panic because I haven’t done anything that would have provided a sense of accomplishment. So, this last stay-cation, I was determined to do some awesome things with the Pumpkin.

On the 16th, which was Bastille day, it happened to be rather cool, for July. I got this idea to get out the old sacque gown because it doesn’t take much to provoke me to get in colonial garb. Originally, I was going to go about my normal chores, but then the husband got called to work and it was just the Pumpkin and I so I thought an outing might be nice despite the rain. We decided to go to the library and then the Italian Market but once the rain picked up, we decided to wait until a break in the storm at Liberty Lights, an air conditioned tourist attraction where you can see a movie or buy tickets for attractions.

Another nice thing about Liberty Lights, is that it’s guaranteed to have at least one other person wearing 18th century clothing and it’s nice not to be the only one. While we were there, the Pumpkin heard stories about history and played ring toss with our fellow costumed person.

By the time the rain let up, it was past lunchtime and we were feeling a little hungry. I got this wonderful idea that we should do something appropriate, given our outfits, so we walked over to City Tavern, which is also full of people in 18th century clothing, who serve you 18th century food. Normally it’s too expensive but for a snack, perfect!

We walked in and asked the host at the door if they served tea. After he got over the confusion at seeing someone else wearing costume — seriously, you do not have the monopoly my dear sir — he was very congenial. Apparently they do not have a formal tea but he directed me to the tavern area in the back, where the light-fare menu had tea and a bread basket, which had bread that would have been served at tea. A favorite of ours were Thomas Jefferson’s favorite sweet potato biscuits.

A glass a cider, a cup of tea, and the bread basket were enough for two and came to roughly $13, which is very reasonable for tea. I ordered a creme brule as well, but we could have done without it, although it was scrumptious. When our server checked on us, the Pumpkin mentioned she wasn’t crazy about the creme brule so she brought us extra biscuits.

Everything was served on stoneware and pewter by candlelight. Just wonderful. Really, it’s about as close as one could get to going back in time. And, since it really wasn’t that expensive, we will definitely go back.


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