As mentioned before, the Darjeeling Darlings essentially came to be at the Ploughcroft Tea Room in Lynchburg, Virginia. Jules and I have had many-a-warming pots of Darjeeling tea at this traditional English tea room and consider ourselves loyal customers. Where to begin...
If you were to visit Ploughcroft, you might think it a bit out of place. But then again, most tea rooms and houses that spot America are. Commerce Street is located in the heart of industrial down town Lynchburg where parallel parking isn't really optional and the old brick buildings could use a good power wash. Outside one of these old brick buildings that lines the street hangs a small sign marking the tea room's presence from the surrounding antique stores.
The drab of downtown Lynchburg is soon forgotten upon stepping inside the tea room that features a simple interior decor of mix-matched English countryside and a warm fire place. Apart from the couches that surround said fire place, the rest of the large high ceiling room is filled with tables set for tea and a couple low hanging chandeliers. Two large, wooden swinging doors lead to the back room that houses the kitchen. First impressions? Cozy.
One of the owners is Patricia who shares Ploughcroft with her daughter, Ashley. Patricia is from Dover and has successfully brought traditional English tea to Virginia. She worked at Sweet Briar for a time too!
If you can, grab one of the two tables nestled in the front of the room against the windows. Although Ploughcroft offers a number of different teas, I would easily say they have the best Darjeeling, which you can never go wrong with anyway. Like a traditional tea room, Ploughcroft does not serve a regular lunch menu of salads and sandwiches with a little bit of tea. However soup de jour and select a-la-carte dishes are an option. A traditional tea room experience consists of "afternoon tea" where a platter of various items is ordered with an endless pot of tea. Jules and I are partial to the Victorian platter, which consists of a three course meal in one.
Salmon and cucumber sandwiches are a great starter, followed by traditional scones (not biscuits!) accompanied by Devon cream and preserves. Save the best for last with the middle tier of assorted desserts, which is much like a box of chocolates because you aren't entirely sure what each one is or consists of. Rest assured they are all quite tasty though! If you think this won't be enough to satisfy an appetite, I can say from personal experience that this platter paired with bottomless tea will leave you quite full.
Although it's hard for me not to be biased when rating Ploughcroft, I would give it a 7 out of 10. The atmosphere and colorful tea pots create an authentic presence that is followed up with authentic English tea and food. Plus the tea is available for purchase! The scones are some of the better I've tried and the assorted desserts are a fun taste test. Patricia and Ashley are attentive owners who have established a restaurant that feels like taking tea in your very own living room.