Destination Tea: Ivory Road Cafe & Kitchen

Where:  Arden, NC
Style:  1930s stone cottage
Tea Selection:  17 loose leaf teas by Asheville Tea Co., 3 Mountains Rwandan Tea and others
Teatimes:  Monday to Tuesday 9-4; Wednesday to Friday 9-9; Saturday 9-1 or 2 pm; Monthly Themed Teas
Reservations:  48-hour notice, Saturday 2pm teas book weeks in advance
Contact:  828-676-3870
Cost:  $25-$30 Monthly Themed Teas; $20 Afternoon Tea
Destination Tea Tip:  You don’t need to wait for Saturday 2 pm teas to enjoy afternoon tea here. As long as you call a couple days in advance, you can reserve afternoon tea anytime during open hours, also giving you the option to augment your meal from the main menu.

exterior Ivory Road Cafe & Kitchen in Arden, NC

Destination Tea Notes: Thanks to the masterful culinary skills of the incredibly twenty-something pastry chef-owner Jill Wasilewski, afternoon tea at Ivory Road Cafe & Kitchen is a scrumptious treat from start to finish. While jazz plays in the background, a mix of afternoon tea goers from college grads to retirees and young married couples fill the rooms of this former private residence, and I think, “this place is so Asheville.” It may be 20 minutes south of the city, but it’s got that unexpected personality, blending a love of the old with the fresh and original, an unpretentious farm-to-table ethic, a DIY craftsmanship. It feels good to be here, like a happy home. One that welcomes an increasing number of afternoon tea goers, who knew what they had found in Jill when she opened Ivory Road three years ago. In fact, it was by popular customer request that Jill began offering afternoon tea, whose Saturday service now sells out weeks in advance. Expect to see evidence of Jill’s travels — to DC, Guatemala, New Orleans and Australia — in her scratch-made menu here, and to find several interesting tea choices from two Asheville tea purveyors. In sum, this gem nestled in the cool green mountainside is a worthy destination tea for any Blue Ridge Mountain tea tour itinerary.

Inside Ivory Road Cafe & Kitchen in Arden, NC
You enter around back, via the porch.
Dining area in Ivory Road Cafe & Kitchen in Arden, NC
Friends gathering in a private dining area
Inside the Ivory Road Cafe & Kitchen in Arden, NC
It’s rainy outside, but inside we are cozy in this former den or living room, now with teapots lining the mantle.
Our view at afternoon tea at Ivory Road Cafe & Kitchen in Arden, NC
Overcast skies create a romantic view in saturated greens. Wondering if the fae folk made these beautiful handrails.
local vendors at Ivory Road Cafe & Kitchen in Arden, NC
Locavores are welcome here! Next to this sign listing local food vendors, shelves display locally made gifts.
My Life with Tea teacups by Lynn Karegeannes
Delighted to find these whimsical creations by Lynn Karegeannes who invited us to the Smith-McDowell House Museum tea exhibit and afternoon tea.

Tea Service

Gorgeous teacup at Ivory Road Cafe & Kitchen afternoon tea in Arden, NC
One of my favorite teacups of all time. The golden outlines of its flowers shimmer when tea is poured.
Tea selection at afternoon tea at Ivory Road Cafe & Kitchen
Having sampled Asheville Grey and Lemon Yaupon from Asheville Tea Co. at Early Girl Eatery in town, I choose a pot of Green tea with hints of peach from 3 Mountains Rwandan Tea, an Asheville company whose mission is to fund entrepreneurship training for women in Rwanda (yes!).
Teapot and teacup at afternoon tea at Ivory Road Cafe & Kitchen in Arden, NC
It’s a garden fresh teapot! Smartly, teas are brewed in sacs that can be removed to prevent overbrewing.

Scones & Spreads, Savories and Sweets

Three-tiered tea curate at afternoon tea at Ivory Road Cafe & Kitchen
The parade of delights begins with deviled egg salad cup with smoked salmon, pimiento cheese and tomato with country ham on sourdough, and spinach wrap with fig jam, goats cheese and honey pecans (#1).
Cucumber sandwich and watermelon salad at afternoon tea at Ivory Road Cafe & Kitchen in Arden, NC
Jill makes her own multigrain bread for the cucumber and mint cream cheese sandwich, accompanied by a refreshing watermelon salad with balsamic drizzle and rose salt.
Scone and teapot cookie at afternoon tea at Ivory Road Cafe & Kitchen in Arden, NC
This lemon poppy scone is divine, served warm with honey butter, seasonal jam and clotted cream. The shortbread teapot cookie is fragrant with lavender flavor.
Dessert at afternoon tea at Ivory Road Cafe & Kitchen at Arden, NC
Dessert calls on multinational cuisine: coconut bourbon ball (yes, please), Chai tea panna cotta, lemon macaron and the wondrous alfajores (lemon shortbread cookies with dulce de leche filling). Each is outstanding!