The Palm Beach Post’s restaurant inspection data are obtained from the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation. For more details, visit The Palm Beach Post’s restaurant inspection app by clicking here .
For the week ending May 14, this is what state inspectors reported these 10 restaurants received perfect scores:
Serenity Garden Tea House had zero violations in an inspection May 9 at 316 Vallette Way, West Palm Beach.
Jan Norris, Florida Weekly, December 8, 2016
There’s peace and quiet at the Serenity Garden Tea House and Cafe, next to the Norton Museum in West Palm Beach.
The owner, Audrey Farrelly, hails from Dublin, where they know how to set a proper tea.
“Yes, we serve high tea,” she said. It’s tea as befitting the royals — with scones, clotted cream and jam, finger sandwiches, pastries and fruit bits, served on tiered serving stands.
She also does a fair amount of catered luncheons in-house — salads, soups, and sandwiches, such as summer chicken salad, pear and gorgonzola salad, or a ham and brie sandwich with mango chutney.
Thursday nights find her open late to accommodate the Norton spillover — it’s their Art After Darkevent. She’ll offer wines and small bites.
Other events are group affairs — essential oil classes, where guests dine, then make and take home soaps, scents, and scrubs.
In the afternoon, there’s free wifi with $5 scone and tea plates, and a $4 glass of wine. “I get a lot of people coming in from their offices — it’s too noisy, and they need the peace and quiet.”
Wine pairing dinners are scheduled the first Wednesday of each month — with Cordon Bleu Catering helping with foods.
The quaint house is popular with ladies who lunch, but men find it just as charming, she said.
A private room accommodates nine, or a group can book the restaurant for a private event, which often is the case, she said.
Serenity Garden Tea House and Café, 316 Vallette Way, West Palm Beach; phone 655- 3911; www.serenitygardentea.com. Open Tuesday- Friday, 11: 30 a.m.- 6 p.m.; Saturday, 11:30 a.m.- 4 p.m. Closed Monday for private parties, and closed Sunday.
Jeff Ostrowski, Palm Beach Post, Aug. 5, 2015
Serenity Garden Tea House serves sandwiches, salads, quiche and, of course, tea. Most items are priced at $12. There’s also a wine list.
Did somebody call central casting and order up a tea house? Serenity Garden occupies a 1921 home, and the busy décor is exactly what you’d expect: lacy tablecloths, frilly chairs and dusty baseboards. There are a few tables outside, but it was so hot during our lunchtime visit that we sat inside.
OUR FAVORITE FOOD/PRICE
Everything was good. I liked the quiche special ($11.95), especially the sweet-potato-and-pear soup that accompanied the dish. The Waldorf salad ($12.50) also was excellent. The true star of the meal was the homemade rhubarb-and-strawberry pie, ($6.50) which was rich and unique.
REASON TO GO
Unique menu items, a relaxed atmosphere and Old Florida surroundings.
Friendly. We were seated quickly, and our servers were eager to please.
Modest. As the name implies, the dining room is quiet aside from diners’ conversations.
Yes and no. The calm vibe isn’t quite suited for loud youngsters, but Serenity Garden is fine for older kids.
Spliced between the palm trees and luxury towers that have come to define West Palm Beach sits an attraction of an entirely different color. Serenity Garden Tea House is everything traditional: Victorian place settings, bone china, polished silver, and lace-covered tables. Whether one goes for High Tea or the more formal Afternoon Service, a major highlight is Serenity Garden’s own pineapple and coconut black tea—perhaps the place’s one and only indication of its proximity to turquoise waters and Caribbean flavors.
You’ve got to feel as though you’re in Merry Ol’ when here — surrounded by teapots, tablecloths and scones with true lemon curd.
Afternoon tea — the kind Americans call the more pretentious sounding High Tea — with clotted cream is served for groups or parties who reserve. Otherwise, it’s a perfectly civil spot for a cuppa and a bowl of house-made soup (a specialty), sandwiches and salads. Plenty of finger-type pastries desserts are on tap. If the owner is actually from Ireland, we won’t tell.
Jan Norris, Florida Weekly, August 7, 2014
The difference in European diners and Americans is the speed with which they eat, says Audrey Farrelly, a native of Ireland.
“We go out to eat for the experience — to enjoy our food. Americans go out to eat because they’re hungry. They’re used to the ‘dash and dine,’” she said.
At her Serenity Garden Tea House and Café in West Palm Beach, she intends to correct that. “I want a place where someone can come in with a book and have a pot of tea in the afternoon and linger,” she said. “I don’t want people to feel so rushed.”
She bought the teahouse a year ago when the former owner wanted to move on. “It was something that appealed to me.”
Ms. Farrelly had been working as general manager for O’Shea’s Irish Pub — after several years of managing food and beverage programs in hotels from Ireland to Australia and London — and back to Dublin. She graduated from a hospitality school that trained her in every aspect of running a restaurant — from the kitchen to the bookkeeping and front-of-house management.
She arrived in the U.S. with the former Roly’s — a branch of the Dublin restaurant that opened in Palm Beach Gardens. “I had worked with their two other restaurants in Dublin, and I was offered a position that opened up here. I was only intending to stay here six months — a year at most. And 13 years later, I’m still here,” she said.
She’s still trying to bring the taste of home to the traditional teahouse foods served at Serenity. The difference is in the freshness of the foods, she said.
“The food at home is very fresh — everything must be bought every day. There’s very little preservatives in everything. You bought fresh milk and bread every day. It’s all fresh cream and butter in the desserts — not canned cream — and it makes a difference.”
All the cooking and baking is done inhouse — by her, she said. “Yeah, back in the ’80s, in that school training, we had to do it all. They showed you everything from shopping, baking, cooking, working with servers, accounting, economics — they cover everything.”
The training gives her an edge up on some chefs trained only in the kitchen, she said, though she has considerable admiration for them. “Chefs have a very pressurized job. I tip my hat to them. It’s a lot of time-management skill. Their organization skills are key. When those tickets keep coming in and don’t stop — you’ve got to keep your cool.”
Today’s chefs are even more under pressure with social media constantly an issue. “They have to keep on top of that, too and keep it updated. No one goes anywhere without the internet today,” she said.
She added wireless to the teahouse to encourage those who want a quiet place to get out of the rat race and not feel pressure to leave.
“It’s one thing I’m much encouraging — bring a book, and sit with a pot of tea, and relax. I’d like to see the place used as much as possible.
“This not the type of place to dash and dine. Obviously if someone is in a hurry, we’ll do our best to accommodate them. I think, though, when someone is being rushed — either a guest or a server — something gets lost along the way. It’s not an enjoyable experience and dining should be a pleasure.”
A few of her customers come in a couple of times a week to get some work done. “For whatever reason, they don’t get anything done in their office. Here, they can be in a quiet setting and work without the rat race — they actually get a lot more done.”
The menu is steady as a teahouse — small sandwiches, soups and salads — using as many local ingredients as she can get. But desserts are where she’s blossoming and adding her own touches to the mix: Cheesecakes and bread puddings, brownies.
“I didn’t want to change too much at first,” Ms. Farrelly said. “I didn’t want the former clients to feel alienated. Now, they’re getting used to me, and I can experiment more. I know what they like.”
She’s attracted wine groups, and book and garden clubs who hold meetings in the semi-private rooms in the back of the old house near the Norton Museum. A few charities — animal shelter and relief funds for dogs, special to her heart — are selling teas here as an auction item.
The image of the teahouse is still one of romance and civility — a time out in the middle of the day to regroup over a cup of tea, she said — not really a bad thing.
“Yes, the teahouse is seen as a romantic spot and most of my clients are women, but now, more males are coming in — dads bringing their daughters for tea, or a husband bringing his wife or mother. They do enjoy it and some have come back on their own. They’re not as afraid of the idea as they once were.”
Name: Audrey Farrelly
Name of Restaurant: Serenity Garden Tea House and Café, 316 Vallette Way, West Palm Beach: 655-3911; serenitygardentea.com
Original Hometown: Dublin, Ireland.
Mission as a chef or restaurant owner: “To bring the fabulous experience of the teahouse to everyone. It’s a magical place sure to bring serenity to all.”
Cuisine style: European.
Training for your job: “I have a degree in hotel and catering management from Dublin College of Catering. I’ve held management positions in high profile restaurants in Dublin and worldwide. I was a general manager of O’Shea’s Irish Pub and Restaurant, West Palm Beach.”
What’s your footwear of choice in the kitchen? SAS.
What’s your guilty food pleasure? “Chocolate, butter and cream in no particular order or all together. I do have to say I am very excited that Kerrygold butter is now readily available to my fellow Floridians.”
What advice would you give someone who wants to be a restaurateur or chef? “Treat your customer as if they were coming to a visit to your home. Have everything as you would like it. Relax and enjoy yourself. Your guests have chosen to come here to enjoy the experience that you prepared for them. Make them feel special and loved.” ¦
Leslie Gray Streeter, Palm Beach Post, May 27, 2014
Being Irish, Audrey Farrelly knows a thing or two about beer and pubs, which aided her in her run as the manager and heart of Clematis Street’s O’Shea’s Irish Pub. But the Irish also value their tea, she notes.
“It’s very relaxing. If something’s wrong, you have a cup of tea,” says Farrelly, who bought the Serenity Garden Tea House in West Palm Beach last summer. “It’s a welcome. Friends come over, you pop the kettle on, sit around and gossip and sort out the world’s problems.”
Serenity Garden offers a full afternoon tea, featuring a cup of soup (the tomato soup is excellent), perfect little tea sandwiches like cucumber and egg salad — with the crusts cut off (but of course) — fresh scones and tiny desserts like macaroons and demure red velvet cupcakes.
There was only one cupcake on the three-tiered plate stand, but we pretended we thought we saw the Royal Family coming down Dixie Highway and swiped it when our friends weren’t looking. (OK, we didn’t. But we would have.)
Speaking of royals, you can also get the Royal Tea, with Champagne added.
The cost of the high tea is $19.95 (a 6 percent sales tax and a 20 percent tip are added). In addition to high tea, individual teas are served with a classic touch (pottery teapot, snug in a tea cozy). An ample range of specialty loose teas is offered, starting at $6.95 if purchased by the ounce. They can be enjoyed at the tea house or taken home for later.
Leslie Gray Streeter, Palm Beach Post, May 10, 2014
The bar: Serenity Garden Tea House … which, you may have guessed, is not actually a bar. It’s a cozy Victorian tea house that now serves beer and wine.
The vibe: A West Palm Beach staple for more than a decade, Serenity Garden is everything you could want in a tea house, including a myriad of sweet design details like antiques and painted furniture. But when longtime O’Shea’s Irish Pub manager Audrey Farrelly bought it last summer, she began plans to make the decidedly woman-friendly place more accessible to guys. She culled some of the teeming collection of knickknacks, added a few Irish touches, and added beer and wine to the menu. So far, she says that seems to have drawn in a few more men, and once they’re there, given the chance, most try a scone. Scones know no gender.
The drink: Serenity Garden doesn’t serve mixed drinks, but Farrelly, a Dublin native, has carefully selected what will be a rotating selection of brews and wine. Currently, she’s featuring Jai Alai India Pale Ale, from Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing. Said to pair well with spicy dishes, it goes well with Serenity Garden’s sassy curried chicken salad.
Other noteworthy libations: While the selections will rotate, Farrelly is now featuring wines from the Jean-Luc Colombo vineyard in Rhone, France, including a lovely Cotes du Rhone. And there’s Champagne and prosecco, too!
Bites: Like most tea houses, the main event is the fancy tea service, but Serenity Garden also offers lunch, including the tender, nutty Waldorf salad, the quiche of the day, and the feta-topped Serenity Garden Salad.