Mifflin’s Tea Room
21 Church St.
The name of this Bonavista eatery doesn’t convey much information, but I assumed, at the very least, I’d be able to purchase a cup of tea at Mifflin’s Tea Room.
To my delight, I discovered that the cosy restaurant serves a full menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner items.
The tea at Mifflin’s is served in crockery teapots (cradled over a burning candle to keep the tea warm) and poured into bone china cups with saucers — a warm traditional touch.
The building that houses Mifflin’s Tea Room has been around since the early 1900s. During the 1930s and 1940s, the grandparents of the current owners operated a small lunchroom there, serving soups, sandwiches and, of course, tea.
Three years ago, renovations brought the room back, complete with washrooms and an outdoor patio.
I remember walking by the building on a beautiful fall day last year and seeing the patio filled with smiling faces. I decided then that this was a place I had to try.
Mifflin’s Tea Room has a very intimate, homey atmosphere. It can seat about 25 people comfortably. Tables are round and covered twice: once with cloth and then with clear plastic. (The trick of making a table easy to clean by using plastic is quite common in rural Newfoundland, so perhaps this was an attempt to be authentic and practical at the same time.)
Colonial-style chairs add to the traditional feel of the room. Both floor and ceiling feature varnished hardwood. Mifflin’s walls are covered in a light damask paper.
Jams and pickles
Shelving units in the room contain items for sale, such as teas, jams and pickles.
In front of Mifflin’s checkout counter there’s a refrigerated showcase with fluorescent lighting that displays many different desserts: mostly wonderful looking cakes and pies.
Above the counter, more shelves are weighed down with teapots of various sizes and designs.
A white menu board on a back wall announces daily specials: Tuscan chicken sandwich, vegetable beef or pea soup, and the all-day breakfast.
Normally I don’t say much about service unless it’s exceptional in some way, either really good or terribly bad. Although Mifflin’s was almost full, a single server managed to look after each table in a timely and professional manner.
She also did her job with a smile and found time for friendly banter with customers at all five occupied tables.
I’ve been in restaurants with much less pressure on wait staff where the service was still atrocious. That’s why I make mention of the service at Mifflin’s Tea Room.
Two of our group went for the daily special, Tuscan chicken sandwich, served with a fresh salad of mostly vegetables.
The sandwich featured moist, tender, chicken breast meat layered with roasted, very sweet, sweet peppers.
Everything was perfectly seasoned and pressed between two soft slices of ciabatta.
The salad was served in a handsome white fluted dish filled with fresh spinach, sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes, grated carrot, and blue and white corn tortilla strips.
Mifflin’s chili, billed as chili and toast on the menu, was served with a bakery roll because that’s what we preferred.
It was homemade-tasting chili at its best. Filled with plenty of beef and slowly simmered with tomatoes, accenting herbs and spices, it was as tasty as any chili could possibly be.
Mifflin’s pan-fried cod sandwich was the ultimate seafood sandwich. A piece of cod fillet, fried with scrunchions until golden brown, was served between two pieces of delicate Kaiser roll.
The roll had been smeared with a soupçon of tartar sauce. Lettuce and a fresh tomato slice completed the filling. The sandwich was served with fresh, crunchy coleslaw. If cod is king, this was a treat fit for a king.
For dessert, we enjoyed two of Mifflin’s Tea Room’s offerings. The menu indicated that all desserts at Mifflin’s are made at the restaurant.
The strawberry pie contained a thin, flaky crust filled with a mixture of fresh strawberries en gelée, topped with freshly whipped cream. One, large chocolate-coated strawberry resting conspicuously on the cream made for a completely over-the-top presentation.
Finally, we tasted a chocolate Oreo cookie cake. Moist chocolate scratch cake had been filled with sweetened whipped cream laced with bits of chocolate. Now, isn’t that just about as good as it gets?
Please, check out this fabulous little bistro the next time you’re in the Bonavista area.
Lunch for two with wine and gratuity — $90 (approximately)
* Fair * * Good * * * Excellent
* * * * Exceptional
For regular updates on “One Chef One Critic,” my Telegram Dining Out column and the latest developments on the local culinary scene please follow me on Twitter @karl_wells.
Karl Wells is an accredited personal chef and the recipient of awards from the national body of the Canadian Culinary Federation and the Restaurant Association of
Newfoundland and Labrador. He is also a restaurant panellist with enRoute
magazine. Contact him through his