Tea at the Gallery has been Western Plaza's most endearing eccentricity for the past five years or so, a proper tea room run by a couple of South African ladies in a Kingston Pike strip mall, a proper feminine place to take one's mother for tea and scones from 10-2, the shop's only hours. When the founders decided to get out of the tea-room business, two regulars, Margy Goldman and Shelley Hecht, bought it, but broadened the Western Plaza refuge into a 9-6 luncheon sort of place. They're offering a more substantial menu, with sandwiches ($8), while keeping the general atmosphere and art gallery focus. They're also carrying iced tea now—it is the South, after all—but Ellen Kern, friend and publicist, emphasizes, "They don't use bags at all. It's one of the few places in the area that sells over 80 varieties of loose-leaf teas. There's a growing interest in teas, especially in the health benefits of green tea."
It's a 21st-century tea room, wired for the Internet, and a website (teaatthegallery.com) but still has some old-fashioned hourglass-style tea timers to let you know when you're tea's ready to drink. "We want to offer this as a comfortable place to hang out," Kern says. The couch-furnished sanctuary from stress seats about 40.