Tickles tea room

Last week for a nice mid-week break, sister-in-law Dorothy and I met up at my condo in Providence, hopped into the Subaru and made the quick 10-15 minute drive east on 195 to Swansea.  Our tea goal this time - Tickles - a boutique/cafe/tea room rolled into one.

I had first learned of Tickles a couple of months ago from Tish Bodell who has a classy "permanent botanicals" business at Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket.  It had been on my radar for an after-the-holidays outing, and it was time.  As it turns out, they also have a newly opened restaurant, The Aviary, right next door.

We had no trouble finding a parking spot in, what we later discovered, was a HUGE parking lot stretching around the back.  Upon entering the building one can go off either left or right and browse the sprawling boutique, full of jewelry, clothing, cards, bags, tea accoutrements and more.

Heading back toward the hostess stand one passes a display case full of assorted chocolates . . .

and, a few steps farther, a pastry case holding cupcakes, cookies, bars, cannoli, cakes, pies and what appeared to be large baking dishes of perhaps fruit crisp or bread pudding.

The tea room is cozy with a cottage like feel, decorated in pink hues (with a bit of Christmas decor still in view) and lined with high shelves along the walls displaying an assortment of tea cups and tea pots.  There are a dozen or so tables and most of them were occupied during our visit.

We were seated promptly right next to the fireplace, and our server arrived shortly thereafter.  We had already taken a brief look at the menu, and it didn't take us long to choose the "afternoon tea" option, which would be perfect for the two of us to share a light repast.  We chose the white ginger pear tea to go along with our tea sandwiches, scones and sweets.

check out the tea sandwich options

Once our tea arrived we started right in . . .

Dor did the honors

and our two tiered afternoon tea assortment soon followed.

We were served classic cucumber, brie and apple and pesto chicken salad sandwiches, having been informed that the kitchen was out of the other two offerings (fig/prosciutto and salmon).

The bread was the same for all three - a soft, yet sturdy white bread which seemed a good vehicle for the toppings.  The cucumber was definitely our favorite with its lemon and dill cream cheese spread that was bright and oh-so pleasing with the crisp cucumbers.

We found the brie and apple to be uninspiring, kind of blending right into the white bread and lacking in any forward flavor.  Dor's observation on the pesto chicken salad was the need for some seasoning (just a touch of salt and pepper folks!), and I felt it didn't lend any particular attractiveness to the plate.

Next up - scones and sweets . . .

The cranberry scones had a pleasant flavor, nice texture and crumb, and the raspberry jam accompaniment was tasty (I was less fond of the fig jam, but, hey, it's all a matter of taste, right?).

The mini-chocolate-chip biscotti were a tad on the chewy side, although the hint-of-spice, caramel-y flavor was delightful, and they dunked nicely in our white ginger pear tea!

In addition we had some candied pecans and, the surprise of the bunch, a fudgey looking chocolate triangle that was ethereally light in the mouth.  Yes!

After a bit of tea sipping and conversation we headed to the boutique for some browsing, and then decided to check out the neighboring "Aviary" restaurant.

The short walk from the tea room passes through some outdoor patio areas and is nicely landscaped, as I'm sure the grounds in front of the building will be once they're completed.

When we entered, the hostess kindly allowed us a walk-through of the space, which consists of a large open room with a bar, lots of windows and light, and the "garden room" with a fireplace, potted plants and plenty more windows and natural light.

the garden room

All in all, the Tickles trip was worth it - a unique combination of shopping, food and atmosphere - and certainly there is nothing like it in greater Providence!  It's obvious the proprietors are putting their all into making Tickles/The Aviary a destination.

Kudos to them!