It wasn’t a surprise that Denver, the mile high city, had its share of dispensaries, great restaurants, and fresh mountain air blowing in from the west but what was a surprise, was high tea. As it turns out, high tea is a thing in Denver.
A friend and I recently hatched an idea to take a train ride. The closest big train station to us is Chicago so we looked at trains departing from there. Being novice train travelers, we thought we’d best try just one overnight on the train to see if two women, 50 years plus, could sleep rolling down the tracks and pitching back and forth. The California Zephyr goes to Denver with one overnight so … Denver it was.
On our second day in the city, we decided to walk a fair distance to find Denver’s infamous ice cream mecca Little Man Ice Cream and secondary, lunch somewhere along the way. Part of this plan to ultimately end up eating ice cream was to wander through the streets and see part of Denver on foot. We found ourselves on Platte Street which offered several small eateries and was close to Little Man Ice Cream. Checking the restaurants over carefully we were drawn to a quaint establishment at the end of the block called The House of Commons. We could see that it was a tea room that also offered lunch. We both love tea and needed lunch so in we went.
Once inside, and to our delight, there were folks enjoying afternoon tea. The tables were set with several pots of tea and three-tiered dish caddies loaded with finger sandwiches, scones, and all the traditional sweets plus jam, lemon curd, and Devonshire Cream. Sadly, our mission that day was lunch and then ice cream so a tea of this magnitude would have spoiled that plan. We instead had a delectable lunch from their sandwich, salad, and soup menu and vowed to come back for high tea before we left Denver.
After lunch, we had a short hike up to Little Man Ice Cream on 16th Street. This place is definitely worth a visit if, for nothing else, its atmosphere and iconic milk can building. Here young men (they where all young men the day we visited) stand at the open air windows donning old-timey soda fountain hats ready to serve up your sweet treat. As for the ice cream …. I must disclose that am a complete self-proclaimed ice cream snob. It is hard to rock my world when it comes to ice cream so I sadly give the ice cream at Little Man a B-. However, your kids will likely love the ice cream (you may too) and you are sure to enjoy the experience.
Our discovery of the tea room got us talking and thinking about cake. My friend, Lynn, is a great cake maker and we often talk of cake. She got a bee in her bonnet to find a good piece of cake in Denver and that got me thinking the same thing. As our time in Denver was approaching its end and it was looking more and more like we were not going to make it back to The House of Commons, or any other tea room, for a time consuming high tea, we endeavored instead just to find a good piece of cake. On our last afternoon in Denver, Lynn headed out to the Mermaids Bakery on Champa Street purchasing a large Salted Carmel cupcake. I visited Gateaux on Speer Blvd and selected three mini cakes; one coconut, one blueberry lemon, and one chocolate. We reconvened in the beautiful lobby cafe, The Study, in our hotel (Hotel Teatro), and ordered a pot of tea. We laid out our cake purchases and commenced with the tasting. All cakes where sumptuous delights. Both Mermaids Bakery and Gateaux getting high marks from us both.
So, in the end, we created our own high tea in the mile high city. It was a fun trip and although we didn’t sleep like babies on the train, we learned we could probably go all the way to California one day … as long as we have good cake and a hot cup of tea.