Restaurant Review: Restaurant Review
Pinkies up! The Steeping Room brings its delectable teas and tea sandwiches to Rosedale.
Reviewed by Kate Thornberry, Fri., May 3, 2013
Mon.-Sta., 8am-9pm; Sun., 10am-5pm
The Steeping Room (Rosedale)4400 N. Lamar #102, 512/467-2663
Mon.-Sat., 8am-9pm; Sun., 10am-5pm
From their sublime teas and sandwiches that cover the spectrum from prim to hearty, to their stellar scones, cupcakes, and tortes, I adore the Steeping Room. Yet I have not eaten there as often as I would have liked, because their original location in the Domain is about an hour from my house. Even though the Steeping Room is not expensive, I have tended to save it for special occasions simply because of the distance. Now that owners Emily Morrison and Amy March have opened a second location near 45th Street in Rosedale, they will be seeing a lot more of me.
The original Steeping Room was an almost instant success when it opened six years ago; March's signature fresh, made-to-order sandwiches and tea services found an enthusiastic reception from weary shoppers. The restaurant suffered in some ways, however, from its own popularity: long waits, overcrowding during peak hours, and a small kitchen so continually slammed that, very quickly, there was no time for seasonal specials, chef dinners, or new bakery items.
With the new location these problems are greatly eased. It turns out that a healthy percentage of the Steeping Room's regulars live in Central Austin, and the new location is far more convenient for them. The tranquil ambience is nearly identical to the original location, with lots of natural wood, neutral colors, and clean lines. The menu is the same, and the quality of the fare is once again undeniable: crispy Romaine lettuce and house-made croutons on the Cashew Caesar ($8.75); vibrant carrots and Chinese cabbage in the Napa Rolls ($6.95); juicy, medium-rare roast beef in the roast beef with chili-lime tomatoes sandwich ($10.25); rich eggplant, roasted butternut squash, and goat cheese in the seasonal grilled vegetable sandwich ($9.75); and of course, the signature array of dazzling desserts.
Bakery operations have moved to the new location, with its roomier kitchen, as well. "We will finally, we hope, be able to add eclairs and some new cupcake flavors," says March. "We have wanted to do that for years! And though we have learned the hard way not to ever discontinue anything on the menu, we hope to be able to add weekly 'farmers' market' specials, and maybe, someday, we'll be able to do a monthly community dinner."