Sunday, May 31, 2015

Finally, A Restaurant that Keeps Improving

[Click any of these photos for a full-sized view.]

We’ve all had the experience. A new restaurant opens nearby. We drop in for a meal. It’s Terrific! Nothing like it around. A welcome addition to the neighborhood. Great food; great service. Dining areas, parking lot, and even the restrooms all perfect. A new “great find.”

Months pass. Sometimes six. Sometimes as few as two. This “latest and greatest find” now isn’t quite what it used to be. Usually, the condition of the facility is the first to go. Not as neat and clean as it used to be. Then the service takes a hit. Finally, the once-legendary kitchen no longer produces those terrific dishes. Few survive.

Well, here’s one restaurant that’s only gotten better since the Allens, Carol, Kelly, and their dedicated crew, opened the doors in April 2008. Every month, it seems, brings a change. A new must-try dish on the menu; new blends of tea, perfectly brewed; a whole new look for the downstairs CafĂ© or upstairs Tea Room. That’s over seven years of improvement!

My wife and I have been enjoying lunch, tea, and even high tea, here since early 2009. We drive up from Columbia every chance we get, and we’ve yet to be disappointed.

After visiting for more than three years I mustered the courage to ask Carol Allen to sit for a CarolinaConsidered interview. She finally agreed. Click here for a listen and more photos. Carol explains the origins of the Tea Room and gives a few hints of her plans for its future.

Laura’s Tea Room has a new website. If you haven’t visited for a while go on over to for a look around. Julie Buffington has done a great job. Maybe I can persuade her to redo the CarolinaConsidered website one of these days.

Oh, and next time you visit the Tea Room be sure to add your e-mail to Carol’s list. Her posts are a great way to start your day. And, she provides up-to-the-minute news about Tea Room happenings. Including sales! There must be some way to sign up electronically, but I couldn’t find it.

So, there you have it. Finally, a restaurant that actually improves over time. In Ridgeway, South Carolina! 

Walking back up Palmer Street to the truck during our last visit I snapped the photo above. That’s in front of Emma and Lillie’s Cottage Goods. One of Ridgeway’s newest businesses. What a place! You’ll have to stop. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Mountain Laurel at Keowee Toxaway State Park in SC

This afternoon I took a walk along the Natural Bridge Trail here at Keowee-Toxaway State Park. To see the blooming mountain laurel. What a sight!

Here's a short video: