I moved to Mobile around 1996 when Spot of Tea was in its younger stages of business, right at the Dauphin Street side of Cathedral Square. I had a friend who lived in the apartment above and to the right. Being a downtown worker and frequent visitor to my college chum’s bachelor pad, I would pass Spot of Tea on a regular basis. Now, after 20 or so years of walking by the place known for its brunch every day, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve made my way through the door.
I have no aversion to it, It just seldom hits me to stop in for lunch or breakfast at the very attractive-looking facility with plenty of sidewalk seating. The place has always looked clean and inviting, with an almost Crescent City feel to it. So what has been keeping me from going there all these years?
Maybe it’s that I’m not really into tea for tea’s sake. Maybe it’s that when I’m downtown I usually have some kind of agenda, and that agenda rarely includes breakfast. Whatever the case, I never intended to neglect Spot of Tea.
I was on my way to my son’s spring recital, where he was to perform a slew of hits on his violin including, but not limited to, themes from “Star Wars,” “Jaws,” Harry Potter films and a very trying version of Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.” I’d been helping him practice over the past couple of weeks, and it’s safe to say I think we were both looking forward to this having this concert under our belt.
While Lucas was making his presence known in his homeroom class as the gymnatorium was being set up for his string ensemble gig, I thought it would be a great time to review a breakfast place. It’s been so long since I wrote about breakfast, even though it accounts for one-third of our meals. So I made my way to Spot of Tea in search of eggs worth writing about.
It was a gorgeous morning with clear skies, and perfect temperatures in the upper 60s/lower 70s demanded we dine al fresco. I was driven to Cathedral Square by Miss Catherine who, expecting me to pick up the check, was eager to drop a couple of quarters in the meter. We walked to the empty sidewalk and picked out a table just across from the spiral staircase.
Within a matter of minutes we each had our own coffees, hers a regular with milk on the side, mine an unleaded with cream ($2.50 each). I asked our waiter if the menu was “breakfast only” at this time, to which he responded we could get anything we pleased at 8 a.m.
Being a breakfast and lunch spot, you would think Spot of Tea’s menu would be limited. It isn’t. Waffles, omelets, breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, a Monte Cristo and a la carte items pretty much guarantee you could build any eye-opener of a breakfast limited only by your imagination. I counted 32 sandwiches from the other side of the menu, including an English Cucumber and Veggie Patty Melt, for those wondering if vegetarians were represented. Of course there are salads galore and a handful of soups they seem to be proud of.
I wanted to review breakfast so I started with Seafood Eggs Benedict ($11.99) and a cup of Seafood Bisque ($3.50 as an addition to the meal). Would I like to add cheddar cheese and onions to my hash browns? What kind of person does this guy take me for? Of course I would ($1.99).
The bisque naturally came out first and was by its very nature rich. Maybe there was a hint of lemon but a generous sprinkling of paprika may have clouded a flavor I had trouble putting my finger on. However, it was enjoyable.
The seafood version of Eggs Benedict was a great idea built on a classic. The two English muffins were grilled and topped with honey ham and eggs with hollandaise sauce. On the side were blackened shrimp of medium size and the hash browns mentioned earlier.
At first glance you realize they do not skimp on portions. You also see they don’t skimp on paprika. The dish was as red as a shotgun blast, as if this may have been an accident. It didn’t turn me off. It just took me by surprise. To be honest the eggs were a bit overdone for Benedict and the whole thing was super salty. I know blackened shrimp are salty, as well as the ham, but this whole plate was oversalted. I picked through the ham and a few hash browns before throwing in the sodium towel.
Catherine was in more of a lunch mood and ordered the Bacon, Cheddar and Honey Ham Melt ($8.99). With plain hash browns, she seemed pleased with her meal. Sourdough bread held thin sliced ham grilled with melted cheddar cheese and topped with bacon. The mayonnaise was the only thing that could make this sandwich better. I was offered a bite and I will admit that while I was less than impressed with part of my meal, this sandwich was awesome.
We walked away from a $34 “breakfast” somewhat satisfied, thinking that perhaps my eggs just had a bad day. I’m thinking maybe the money here is in the sandwiches. I’m not saying you should steer clear of Spot of Tea, just branch out from the house specialties.
Minutes later I was watching my firstborn son sporting a brand new pair of spectacles and a sharp-looking tie as he navigated through the “Canon in D.” Looking back, I had a great breakfast.