Formerly located in Naples, NY, and noted in an earlier entry here under the category rumors, Dallywater's is indeed open in Geneva, NY. Labeling itself a British eatery that is "tea-centric," Dallwater's is across from the post office in a large-ish, quite light space. When we went, we were met by a friend/acquaintance who has his first waitering job in his life. Yep, at Dallywater's. So, it was both welcoming and friendly.
The menu (available here) offers a variety of options. We had a cup of lovely fresh pea soup and the Darjeeling Express. What we really wanted, at least for one of us, was the cup of soup and one small sandwich. Turned out not to be available. This was, I admit, more than a tiny bit off putting. No way to get just one of hte sandwiches off of the Darjeeling. Having said this, we just ordered the Darjeeling Express for us both. To be honest, one would have been enough food for us, and I would love it if they could be clearer on whether one of these -- as an option (which comes with two sandwiches and with pastries) was available to share. Having said that, besides the lovely soup (which was truly fresh tasting) what did we make of what we did order? As for the food: the Darjeeling Express came along on one of those lovely two-tiered serving gizmos (I have no idea what they are called) with the sandwiches on one level and the pastries on the second level. The sandwiches were described on the menu as "puri-style" which in this context means halves of pita sandwiches. The fillings -- we had a chicken salad (called chicken madras), a lime hummus, and an egg salad. I was entranced with the lime hummus and will try to make it at home one of these days. Much better than lemon, oddly enough. The pastries were a meringue with strawberries, a truffle (with bits of crunchy meringue in it), and a short bread cookie. I only tried the truffle and noted that besides generally tasting delightfully chocolate-y, the meringue bits made for a very nice mouth feel.
DRINKS: First and foremost the tea: we ordered one pot of the Oliphant green and one pot of the Lord William's (which is a chamomile/spearmint blend). Both were dandy. They came with a tea strainer and etc. The first set may not have been steeped long enough, and was not quite the right temperature. But, that got sorted and we eventually drank large quantities of tea while there. Additional possibilities are a mint iced tea -- made with the Lord Williams -- and sodas. Absolutely no alcohol is used at Dallywater's. It is neither served nor used in cooking. But tea, there is. And the Lord Williams is quite quite good -- not overpowering but minty enough.
SERVICE: As I said, we arrived and were greeted by someone we knew, so Dallywater's immediately seemed warm and friendly and was. The service opened with the arrival of a turny little gizmo holding jars labeled with varieties of tea. This way, you can use your olfactory capacities to choose. When it arrives, the tea comes in a pot, and you pour it into your cup through a tea strainer. (Or the wait staff does so.) Having said all this, mainly the service was attentive and it was quite responsive when, for example, we said the tea could have been steeped longer or served at a better temperature. Also, various people stopped by and ensured we had enough tea -- not too frequently but frequently enough. And, when a third person joined us, they were quite gracious. See below for a tweak.
SETTING: As I said, large, light and white table-clothed. Nice high ceilings. And lovely huge front windows which look on to Castle Street but mainly were a source of lovely sunshine the day we were there. There is, also, loads of parking on Castle Street. And Dally water's was not terribly busy when we were there.
ON THE WALLS: Beyond some light colors, there was a hug (and I do mean huge) poster-y London street scene wall papered on to one wall. Sounds odd perhaps, but it worked despite being black and white.
BATHROOM REVIEW: I have let bathroom reviews slide a bit here at Cooking with Ideas and am back on track. See, I have even got the former visuals! Anyway, our anonymous bathroom reviewer knew that we'd all like the floor -- my favorite sort of old-fashioned tile (or faux of the same thing). And hte bathrooms are right on the first floor unlike some of those places where finding the bathrooms is like a game of . . . well, tunnel exploration or Indiana Jones kind of exploration. One thing the anonymous bathroom reviewer failed to mention: it was so cold in there that I gasped. Alas.
ADDED DELIGHTS: Well, there is an art gallery but we did not visit it. And, you can purchase t-shirts (though they still say Naples, NY on them). And, of course, you can buy loose leaf tea.
TWEAKS: Yes, there are some. Let me begin with the food. First: the pita bread (or puri style bread) was cold and should have been at room temperature. Also, though I know this particular grouping we ordered was about British colonial India, I find the puri reference here a little confusing because the bread seemed more pita-ish than puri. That may just be me. Mostly, when it comes to the food, I would thnk about presentation a bit more. The appropriate use of garnishes (ok, that sounds pretentious) could have made the presentation better -- rather than 4 pita halves on one level, looking a bit forlorn, a bit of edible flowers or greens or. . . . woudl perk it up or finish the plating. Not unrelatedly, on the menu it says that the chicken madras has some greens in the sandwich, but it did not. It would have looked a bit better if it were not sort of monotone -- with some greens (as perhaps could the others we were served) or something to deal with the fact that the color of the bread and the filling in all cases was virtually identical. In some ways, when it comes to afternoon tea, appearance is a huge part of what happens since the serving size of the sandwiches is supposed to be pretty small and the theme is elegance.
One other tweak: the place was nowhere near full and yet a large party was seated beside us, making it hard both for servers to get around them and for them to get up and down without asking us to move or nudging us. An option was to seat them at the other large table (a few feet away) where they woudl not have had this problem, the servers would have had an easier time, and we would not have been squooshed. Doing so would, of course, have prevented our eavesdropping on the other table, but likely everyone involved would have had a slightly better time. So: a minor tweak.
All in all, I will likely go back, if only to purchase some loose leaf tea -- or have one of those truffles again. Or, I must admit, to try the Weslh Rarebit, which is one of my faves.
For a magazine bit on the Naples venue, now transplanted to Geneva, try here. And, for a more recent visit by anohter blogger, try here. Or, check the comments here at Cooking with Ideas (or make one below)!