Clara J’s Tea Room
219 West Wayne Street | Maumee
www.clarajsat219.com | www.facebook.com/ClaraJsTeaRoom
Lunch and Carryout: Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-3 pm
Proper Tea: Wednesday-Saturday, 11am or 1:30pm by reservation
The Short Course:
Kids Menu? Yes.
Carryout? Yes .
Online Ordering? No.
High Chairs Available? Yes.
Changing Table? Yes.
Outdoor Dining? Yes, in the summer.
Facebook: 4.8 out of 5 with 136 reviews
Google: 4.8 out of 5 with 144 reviews
Yelp: 4.5 out of 5 with 12 reviews
When it comes to eating out, there is rarely much overlap between fine dining and family dining. Yet Clara J’s Tea Room manages to check both boxes, providing inviting fare for guests of all ages in a classy historic building in uptown Maumee. This is not a restaurant for adults where a child occasionally tags along; rather, it’s a spot that regularly welcomes multi-generational groups and embraces the presence of young children.
As you walk up the path to enter, don’t be surprised if children in your party take their time to stop and admire the fairy village constructed of tea cups and saucers in the landscaping. Most little ones go quiet when they enter the tea room, according to owner Gretchen Fayerweather. “The kids just sort of get it when they walk in the door, that this is a special place,” she said.
Made from scratch
Clara J’s recently celebrated 17 years in business. Fayerweather, a longtime culinary arts professor at Owens Community College, bought the business from its founder, Rebecca Jaessing, in 2018, and maintains her ties to Owens by staffing her kitchen with graduates of its program. Fayerweather is also a Certified Executive Chef through the American Culinary Federation. Clara J’s team of skilled culinary arts professionals introduces a new menu five times a year, and Fayerweather says almost everything served at the Tea Room is made from scratch.
Quality over quantity
Clara J’s seats a maximum of 50 guests at a time, and reservations are strongly encouraged. Fayerweather says her mantra is “quality over quantity,” so she doesn’t like to overbook.
My group arrived ten minutes prior to our reservation time on a Saturday afternoon and we were promptly seated at a table set with linens and vintage china in the main dining room of the converted house. Nearly every other table in the place was occupied by adult women accompanied by little girls, all dressed up, some even sporting fashionable hats.
Just minutes after we were seated, a gentleman sat down at a piano in the room and began playing a beautiful medley of live music that we enjoyed throughout our meal.
Lunch or ‘Proper Tea’
Guests at Clara J’s can order off the lunch menu or opt for “Proper Tea,” a four-course meal served in the British tradition with nine different types of scones, sandwiches, sweets and savories beautifully arranged on a three-tiered tray. This is accompanied, naturally, by a freshly brewed pot of one of the 30 varieties of loose-leaf tea that Clara J’s features each month.
Clara J’s offers a child-friendly version of this spread — known as the Princess or Prince Proper Tea — as well as a children’s lunch menu.
Be aware that you will not find soft drinks, juice or coffee on the menu at Clara J’s. Children can choose between pink lemonade, hot chocolate or raspberry tea, all of which are served in a teapot so each child can enjoy pouring their own beverage into a fancy teacup.
The hot chocolate was accompanied by a dish of colorful marshmallow bits which quickly disappeared among the three kids at our table. They had so much fun repeatedly refilling their teacups that I had to remind them to slow down so they didn’t drink it all before we ordered.
We also shared a medium pot of Irish breakfast tea and a small pot of cherry marzipan tea at our table, and both varieties were smooth and delicious.
Something for everyone
My group opted to order from the lunch menu, which offers a variety of soups, sandwiches and salads. Kids lunches are $10 and include a choice of a sandwich, cheese turnover or macaroni and cheese. All come with fresh fruit, goldfish crackers, jello cutouts and a mini cupcake.
Two of my kids went for the peanut butter and jam, and one tried the turkey and cheese sandwich. All three plates arrived beautifully arranged, with crustless sandwiches cut into decorative shapes. The kids devoured the food. The only complaint from my 11-year-old was that the sandwich was a bit small. The food portions would likely be just right for a toddler or preschooler, while older kids with bigger appetites might prefer to order off the adult menu.
My mother gave high praise for the quiche with cauliflower and white cheddar, which was accompanied by fresh fruit, tea bread and a pearl couscous salad, chock full of peas, asparagus and shredded carrots. I enjoyed the varied flavors of the tea room sampler, which provided a taste of all Clara J’s signature fare: a bite of quiche, half of a ribbon sandwich, half of a cucumber sandwich, a mini scone with Devonshire cream and fresh fruit.
This variety is one of the things that sets Clara J’s apart, according to its owner. “If I order a sandwich, usually the first bite tastes like the last bite,” says Fayerweather. “But with this, you get so many different flavors and it’s definitely an experience versus just coming to eat.”
If you are looking for a unique dining experience for Mother’s Day or another special occasion, Clara J’s delivers. While it is pricier than your standard family fare, the tea room offers delicious food in a beautiful and relaxed environment. Reservations at least a week in advance are strongly recommended as the place frequently is full, especially on weekends.