My traveling wings have been clipped. Coming to terms with it isn’t easy, but I’m finding new outlets for my love of going places and seeing things while staying at home — at least for now.
One is the National Trust Podcast. Its hosts, head gardener Alan Power and park ranger Kate Martin, take me to some of the Trust’s great historic gardens and beautiful landscapes in the United Kingdom, telling me the stories and people that make each place so special.
“We’ll tread sandy paths and the polished wooden floors of country homes, delight in birdsong, sublime views and exceptionally good cream teas,” say the familiar, soothing lines of each podcast’s introduction. “So come and join me on this journey, and immerse yourselves in the wonders of the National Trust.”
Alan and Kate are right. The cream tea — a light afternoon meal where hot tea is taken with a scones, clotted cream and jam — is exceptionally good at National Trust properties. But now I have discovered that afternoon tea — where hot tea is accompanied by delicate savory sandwiches cut into small shapes, scones served cream tea-style, and a cakes — is exceptionally good at my new outlet for the no-more-traveling blues: the Asterisk Supper Club in Uptown Westerville.
Enter the front door of 14 North State Street and you’ll see a magnificent hand-carved circa-1890s bar, a tribute to the history of “The Dry Capital of the World.” The Westerville community was so opposed to the sale and consumption of alcohol, and supported Prohibition so vehemently, that the Anti-Saloon League was once headquartered there. Even after Prohibition ended in 1933, Westerville remained dry until 2006.
Lighted by antique crystal chandeliers, the dining room provides the perfect atmosphere for a leisurely visit. Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, all filled with books, line the south and east walls. Menus are presented in books; bills are tucked into library book pockets with date-due cards.
Asterisk offers two afternoon teas. The full tea comes with a choice of eight tea sandwiches, two scones and two desserts. Or opt for the petite tea, which consists of a choice of four tea sandwiches, one scone and one dessert.
Teapots are filled with traditional teas like Earl Grey, green, chamomile and English black tea, best served with warm milk and sugar. Or for a more unique beverage to fill an antique china teacup, try cardamon, peach and passion fruit, chocolate cherry bomb, Moroccan mint, Masala chai, and rosehip, hibiscus and cherry.
Tea sandwich selections include cucumber, cream cheese and dill; ham, brie, green apple and Dijon mustard; egg salad with pepper and radish sprout; bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise; salmon, dill, cream cheese and capers; strawberry with honey, cream cheese and raisin bread; peanut butter and homemade strawberry jam; or cherry tomato vinaigrette and sour cream. Mine were served with sugared grapes on an antique china plate.
The scone lineup includes traditional cream; brown sugar and cinnamon; lemon blueberry topped with a candied lemon slice; and a special seasonal flavor, such as pumpkin. Desserts range from petite portions of lemon custard to a pumpkin pound cake with cream cheese frosting, topped with a sugar-coated piece of pumpkin-shaped jelly candy. Both were presented on an antique glass dish.
Asterisk serves afternoon tea seven days a week, from 12:00 to 4:00 pm. Harpist Trista Hill provides accompaniment the first Saturday of every month from 12:00 to 3:00 pm.
Asterisk also offers a variety of dishes for lunch and dinner, from standard meatloaf and macaroni to unique options like grilled cheese and tomato soup and fried chicken on a jalapeno and peanut butter waffle with honey butter syrup.
How did tea become Britain’s hot beverage of choice? Tune in here to listen to Lizzie Collingham, author of Taste of Empire: How Britain’s Quest for Food Shaped the Modern World, in “Food and the British Empire,” today’s episode of WOSU’s All Sides with Ann Fisher. It’s around the 16:00 mark.