Last summer two of my tea-loving friends had birthdays the same month, so we combined their celebrations with an excursion to High Tea with Gerri in Long Grove, IL. We’ve been to many of the storied tea rooms downtown and wished to see what a suburban location had to offer, and were we ever glad we’d chosen to do so. We liked it so much, that we returned again this year with two more of our friends and all five of us had a lovely time.
Long Grove, itself, is a charming location. Gerri’s Tea Room is conveniently located right in the heart of the old part of town. Perched on a hilltop with access to a private parking lot, it is accessible for nearly anyone and understands suburban car dependent culture.
Approaching the charming building, you notice the outdoor eating area, a place that we were happy to see on our first visit because of the high Covid alert at the time. We could enjoy ourselves with a much reduced risk. But the interior space of the shop is extremely delightful as well, and the scattered tables allow for some social distancing.
Dressing up is encouraged and you can also borrow Ascot-worthy hats for your experience if you wish. (Or bring your own!)
On both occasions, we ordered the five-course Emperor’s Tea and were impressed.
While many tea rooms focus on providing a large variety of exotic teas to choose from, Gerris does a single blend of English Breakfast and Earl Grey that nicely backs off the bergamot flavor. (I’m not a fan, and I was grateful for that.) That’s your only choice. You can get it either regular or decaf.
Gerri’s is all about the food. And what food it is! Everything is homemade and absolutely delicious, from the savories to the sweets. And, honestly, we had the hands-down best lemon curd any of us had ever tasted there with our scones.
Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper
Served in a demitasse cup and drinkable, this soup had a rich roasted tomato flavor and you end up wishing there’s more of it. I could have eaten an entire bowl.
Apéritif of smoked trout or grilled chicken served atop a bed of greens
lemon juice, olive oil, honey dressing
Very good, but perhaps the most forgettable thing on the menu.
Scottish Smoked Salmon Rounds
lemon butter, dill, cream cheese roset on wheat
Beef Tenderloin Rectangles
lemon aioli & basil on pumpernickel
English Cucumber & Dill Squares
cream cheese, lemon juice on light white
Roast Turkey Triangles
cranberry chutney & greens on marble rye
Egg Salad Rounds
with chives on wheat
Imitation Crab Rounds
lemon zest aioli, bell peppers, celery
Arrayed on greens with soy aioli on wheat baguette
Open-Faced French Brie
Garnished with homemade cranberry chutney on wheat baguette
Every single one of these was so well-thought-out with flavors that paired and complemented each other perfectly. The savories at Gerri’s are among the best I’ve ever tasted at a high tea. Everything has an individual character and complexity you usually don’t find, especially in the standard tea fare like the salmon, cucumber and egg salad. The standouts were the asparagus (I would love to see what Gerri did with an all Vegan menu this was so amazing), egg salad (which is ordinarily so boring and here was absolutely not, I wanted more, and enough nice things can’t be said about it), crab, and salmon.
Irish Raisin Scones
Served with lemon curd, strawberry preserve & clotted cream
The scones were very nice and almost fluffy rather than dry and biscuity as they sometimes can be. But the lemon curd! It deserves a poem:
Perfect lemon curd
Why is there not more of you?
Get in my belly!
And the clotted cream was a close second. None of it survived us.
Three Layer Mousse Cups of chocolate, French custard & pistachio butter
The three-layer mousse cups and petit fours were superb. Even the Macarons were better than your standard ones and I’ve eaten Macarons from Pierre Herme in Paris. These were close.
Don’t think, just because it’s in the suburbs, that you won’t be getting a superb high tea at Gerri’s. If you love the tea experience and superior food, this is the place for you. If you’re there to get your tea varietal snob on, you should find another room.
Make reservations at their website.
Photos by Suzanne Magnuson and Kelly Chenault