The Disney community of Celebration, steeped in 1950's atmosphere and designer architecture, isn't a place one would associate with English high tea or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Yet this is the place that two Londoners have decided to open a tearoom filled with Sherlock Holmes memorabilia and the aroma of Earl Grey.
Tony David worked right next to the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London for many years and came to Florida with the aim of bringing a unique experience to Celebration. He and his wife June opened Sherlock's not on tourist-attractive Market
Street, but on Bloom Street. It's a small, intimate shop packed to the ceiling with deerstalker-capped bears, boxes of loose tea, a diverse selection of wines and miniatures of Sherlock, Watson and Moriarty. The room holds only a few tables, but the outdoor courtyard affords a delightful place for a hot cuppa and a serene lake view.
Most Yankees know little about what goes into a proper English tea ("tea" is the entire meal, not just the drink), something David is emphatic about. "Serving loose tea is an art form," he says. "You must heat the pot first, and steep the leaves for only five minutes." And if you're in the company of Brits, never put the milk in first (milky tea is the lifeblood of the English.) The teas at Sherlock's come in four formal varieties, the largest being "Sherlock Holmes' Tea" ($13.50). The three-tiered tray had other customers peering in envy at the buttercream-rich pastries and moist, rich scones (it's "skon," not "skown"), and these are the best in Orlando. An authentic "tea" would have had little finger sandwiches instead of spinach pies and egg rolls, but I guess it's a compromise for Americans. The other offerings are smaller versions, the "Mrs. Hudson's" being the best value of a fresh pot of tea (your choice of variety) with homemade scones, real Devon cream and strawberry jam ($6.95).
The hot items are still in the shakeout stage. "Vegetable egg roll delight" ($7.95), three crisp rolls filled with julienned veggies, were tasty, but nothing I'd travel out of my way to eat. Meanwhile the microwave does nothing to enhance the puff-pastry shell of the tiny "brie en croute" ($6.95).
There are more than enough other venues for egg rolls; Sherlock's should be your destination for a real tea in the grand English manner.