Tag Archives: Birmingham MI

Aparna in Wonderland

This past weekend I was able to indulge in a treat fit for a queen! …Of hearts, that is. REB and I went to Mad Hatter Bistro/Bar/Tea Room in Birmingham, MI (about 60 miles northeast of Ann Arbor in metro Detroit). 

Before we go any further, I need to preface that anyone who knows me well knows how much I love Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and generally, all things Alice in Wonderland. It’s one of my favorite books/stories of all time and I love both the original story by Lewis Carroll, but also the Disney version. My sister and best friends even threw me a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party for my bridal shower before I got married! My office has several copies of the book that I’ve been collecting versions over the years. If I ever see a copy with new illustrations, or cover art, or in a different language, I get it. It’s probably silly or nonsense, but…”if I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense!”

So anyway, when I had heard last year (or maybe it was even the year before) there was a tea room, bar and restaurant opening near Detroit that would be Alice in Wonderland-themed, I have been dying to go. I finally decided to make it happen over the weekend. REB was gracious enough to accompany me – major points to him!

The ambiance of this place was very whimsical. It was not a formal tea place, like what REB and I experienced when we went for high tea in Copenhagen last year. That place was a typical place for high tea, where they brewed their own tea blends, had fine china and only open for a few hours a day strictly for tea.

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This place was definitely more like a hipster bar and had a whimsical charm. Dimly lit upstairs, the walls had an array of Alice in Wonderland memorabilia complete with playing cards, clocks, checkered paint details, tea pots, etc.

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I was actually a little concerned that we would be having tea in such a darkly lit place. But then we were taken downstairs where it was a complete 180! They had a cute little tea room downstairs where the walls were covered with fake grass/turf, little water fountains were displayed, the ceiling had silk roses (in red and white!) hanging from it, mismatched tea cups and saucers sat on each table and each table donned a different style and shape of arm chair.

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One thing people need to know about this place is that you have to make a reservation for a tea party. I think if you were to go in for brunch, drinks or dinner you wouldn’t need one, but they do state on their web site that for a tea party, you have to make a reservation. Their weekends fill up pretty quickly, I guess! I also took a look at their tea menu since it’s a fixed price but you receive the following: Three-tiered stand filled with finger sandwiches, scones, clotted cream (or marscapone here), jam/curd, and small local pastries and fruit, and of course, bottomless tea! The finger sandwiches included a salmon one, so when I called to make the reservation I had mentioned we were vegetarian which they took note and said we would just get their vegetarian option.

REB and I first tried different teas and then shared the second pot. The first one I had was a Paris blend of vanilla and caramel and he went simple with English breakfast black tea. The second time around, we got a pot of their Mad House Blend which had strong hints of cardamom — it was delicious!

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Next up: the food! Like I stated earlier with the tea party you receive a three-tiered stand with the bottom layer having cucumber and mint finger sandwiches, canapes of artichoke and spinach; and red pepper and hummus. The second tier had four scones – two chocolate chip, two lemon poppy seed and they came with lemon curd and marscapone cheese (no clotted cream on this side of the pond :( ). The final tier had mini desserts of lemon cheesecake, a chocolate chip cake cookie, fudge brownie and nutella and cream parfaits.

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Overall the food was pretty good. My biggest disappointment was that I noticed other tables that had the meat/salmon option for the finger sandwiches had those plus the things we had. I had hoped and kind of wished that because we said we were vegetarians, they would have just given us more of the cucumber and mint sandwiches, but they didn’t. Kind of a bummer and rip off, but what we did have we liked.

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Lemon poppyseed scone with marscapone and lemon curd

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As stated before, the tea party was a fixed price, which is a touch on the spendy side. It costs $24/person and tip is not included. You’re definitely paying for the ambiance, experience and location (Birmingham is a pretty affluent city).

I thought back to what we spent in CPH and if we had done a similar tea menu there like we did here, it was roughly 225KR which is $32.50, so I guess it’s at least cheaper than Europe! Of course, we didn’t do that in CPH so it was cheaper, but still. Good to know!

I don’t know that we will go here again, at least not for a tea party. Their main menu and brunch menu sound really delicious and have fun names for all the items, though! So that might be worth a try. Having said that, price aside, I could see this being a cute place to have a party for a little girl or something, though it would likely cost quite a bit.

I am glad we went. It was cute, fun and I appreciate the detail they put into making it feel like you were in the hedge garden and having tea with the Mad Hatter and March Hare. And like the Mad Hatter always says….

What about you? Have you ever “splurged” on something silly like a dining experience?