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Nov 5, 1999 03:59 PM

Lovely tea and pastry -- Soho

  • j

Ok, so I decided I was getting a little too hooked on coffee; I'm giving it up for a while. Which gives me the opportunity to sample neighborhood tea. My first foray, today, was a definite success.

I had been to La Poeme, on Prince and Elizabeth, once before, for lunch several years ago. It didn't really impress me negatively or positively; since it was so not memorable I haven't been back since then. But today, I was walking around the neighborhood looking for somewhere I could sit with a cup of tea and read my book for a while -- Ceci Cela was too crowded; Cafe Gitane was only allowing diners to sit at tables; getting really desparate I poked my head into Cafe Habana but every table was full there, too -- what was I to do? As I turned away from Cafe Habana I noticed La Poeme across the street; a little light went on in my head -- I crossed and looked in, and sure enough there was a table open by the window.

This time around I had a much better experience. La Poeme is a Tunisian creperie and bakery. The room is very comfortable, painted yellow and decorated with aged wooden boxes and jars of honey and preserves. Some chairs are wicker, some upholstered. The cook is a French woman, I assume from Tunesia; the waitress I think is her daughter but I'm not sure.

I ordered a pot of chamomile tea and an anise cookie, which had recently come out of the oven. The tea was very nice, made with loose chamomile rather than a bag, served with a little sieve to pour through. The cookie was tasty. And most important (to me anyways) the space was very comfortable to sit in and read my book in the sunlight.

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  1. it sounds like you had a wonderful zen like experience - but chamomile tea?! and loose vs. a bag? come now. are you seriously suggesting that we go and try the place for its perfumed, hot colored water? on the other hand, if you want to wax rapsodic about the sunlight streaming through and dust motes dancing etc, you've chosen the wrong board.

    13 Replies
    1. re: howler

      Oh, come on -- that's ridiculous. I've been posting to these boards long enough, I don't need to listen to you insulting my taste in tea. Chamomile tea is a fine thing to drink; all teas are perfumed, hot colored water. And I've said many times that the experience of the restaurant plays as great a role in my liking it as does the food. If you're not interested in the physical description of the place don't read it -- but don't come off with this snide, belittling tone -- I don't need that.

      1. re: Jeremy

        One of the unfortunate phenomena of cyberspace is that it's REALLY easy to mistake sardonically cantankerous writing for full-out nastiness. I myself run into that problem sometimes....

        I think Howler was affecting mock exasperation just to be chowhoundy/opininated ("c'mon, you really LIKE that stuff???"), not to really get on your case, Jeremy.

        And, in any event, we all love your messages--dancing dust mites and all--so please don't let a brash remark or two get you down!


        1. re: Jim Leff

          You guys take yourselves too seriously. Actually, it is most amusing to find grown men squabble over the description of tea.
          Howler, I think you expressed yourself beautifully. It is refreshing to find someone who can enjoy the simple pleasures of life. As a matter of fact, I am going to brew some of that chamomile for myself right now.

          1. re: Renee

            Uhhh ... I think you meant to say Jeremy, right?

            1. re: Gary Cheong

              Right Gary, I meant Jeremy.....and I really thought it refreshing that he is not jaded and could take such pleasure in a nice cup of chamomile.
              Good for you Jeremy, sometimes it is nice to stop and smell the roses or the chamomile.

                1. re: Jeremy
                  Jessica Shatan

                  1st of all, I think the TOTAL experience is part of the food experience so keep up the dust mote descriptions.
                  Secondly, Jeremy did NOT overreact, because Howler had the nerve to say Jeremy was posting to the wrong board. Howler went overboard and Jeremy reacted normally, if you ask me.
                  Now--let's get back to the fun of the boards, cantankerousness and all.

                  1. re: Jessica Shatan

                    I guess that was a "howler" of a mistake.... Also, I'm glad those were dust motes dancing in the window, and not dust mites -- that would be a place to avoid. :-)

                    1. re: Greg

                      a kid's game, popular 'round the world: the first kid whispers soemthing quickly to the second, who whispers what he hears quickly to the third...and so on down the line. you compare what the last kid heard to the original phrase and much merriment is had by all at the discrepancy. the indians call it chinese whispers.

                      jeremy never spoke about dust motes in his original post! i did that, riffing around what he'd written. so i guess we're playing the same game....

                      1. re: howler

                        I remember doing the same thing growing up here in New York -- we called it "telephone." Interesting (but completely off-topic) topic -- how children's games are similar in different cultures....

        2. re: Jeremy

          jeremy - sorry about the chamomile tea rant, but let me suggest something as a peace offering. go to little india in the late 20's on lexington and buy yourself a box of conossieur (lipton) tea. get some lemon grass and some fresh mint leaves, called respectively 'country tea' and 'pudhina' by indians. in a tea pot, put in as many teaspoons of tea + one as the number of cups you wish to brew, along with say 4 strands of lemon grass and a spoons worth of mint leaves. (this assumes at least 3 cups of tea). brew the tea for about 5 minutes. enjoy!

          this is a really sensational way of making tea, very popular with the parsis in india. there is almost no restaurant abroad or for that matter in india that serves it, and done right beats almost every fancy shmancy british blend (unfortunately, our ex colonial masters admittedly do blend beautifully). the connosieur blend is liptons most expensive, but you can use 'green label' if you dont want to stump up for the connosieur. it really doesn't affect the result that much, but conossieur on its own is pretty fabulous too.

          1. re: howler

            Thanks -- I always enjoy a good cup of tea. I'll try that out. I guess I overreacted a bit above -- sorry.

            Do I need to do anything in particular to the lemon grass + mint, like peeling or chopping? Do I use the entire length of the lemon grass or just the top (near the root)?

            1. re: Jeremy

              no, theres nothing special you need to do other than a quick rinse. you can cut the lemon grass into whatever size will fit nicely in your teapot. the thing that IS important is to get a tea cosy - preserving the heat while the tea brews is essential. serious tea makers also rinse out the teapot with boiling water to get it warm BEFORE they put in the tea, lemon grass and mint. also, if you like to dunk, get the round brittania biscuits.

      2. Went back to La Poeme yesterday afternoon with Ellen; we were both enchanted again. She ordered ginger tea, but it was not available, so she decided to try verbena tea. Neither of us had ever tasted verbena tea before; it's a wonderful, strong flavor, Ellen thought a bit like jasmine. I stuck with chamomile -- love that woodsy, dandelion flavor!

        I also had a crepe, served with slices of pear, chopped almonds and half-melted chocolate. It was very good; I don't have much experience with crepes so I can't really rate it except to say I enjoyed it.