“restaurant” review: ma-cha teahouse + art gallery

i’ve decided to start writing reviews of new places (at least new for me) that i visit, around town and on travels. i know that past blog entries have sort of half-heartedly done this already, but now i’ll be more deliberate. in the future (after i’ve written more than one) i may decide to pull them together in a “page” on the side bar or you may just have to find them by searching for the term “restaurant review” as i’ll attempt to remember to title them all using that phrase. this one is in quotes because the teahouse isn’t really a restaurant, but i just had to tell you about it!

my pastor and i had a planning meeting today and we decided to meet at the ma-cha teahouse + gallery on monroe st. neither of us had been there, but both of us had noticed it and wanted to see what it was all about. apparently, it used to be only an art gallery. they recently decided to change the name and add a teahouse element. great hook! as you enter, there’s a glass display counter where they’ve (artfully) displayed some refreshingly small cookies (with an equally refreshingly small price tag of only 35 cents each!) and a giant list of teas on the menu board on the wall. there is a coffee dispenser on the side tea that you could purchase to take home as well. we ordered our tea (iced sweet tea for me, iced chai for my pastor) and explored the place. the side gallery downstairs is still all white and very serene feeling. there is a rotating art display on the walls and right now there are also some whimsical paper art “ornaments” hanging in front of the windows (hand made and only $2 each–i had to snatch up three for myself!).

there are 2 or 3 small tables–big enough for two people to share a cup of tea and chat. some of them have flat, wide bowls filled with green sand (about the color of green tea) and a paintbrush that could be used to trace designs in the sand–zen garden style. they also have cases with jewelry. i loved one of the necklaces so much that (despite my large collection of pieces i’ve made myself over the years) i had to buy it.

upstairs, they’ve painted each of the rooms a different color and decorated it in a different style. there’s a large-ish moroccan style room at the front of the house, and two smaller rooms (one decorated in a pink/black vintage fashion plate/parisian style, the other painted a soothing teal color and decorated in an asian style–very effective! the table in the teal room has a lovely little bonsai instead of the sand zen garden.), and one additional tiny room full of fun toys for kids at the end of the hall. the rooms feel very intimate and peaceful. the guy who sold us our tea also pointed out that there is a letter-writing station near the door where they provide stationary (i think he even said they provide the postage!) so that people will sit and take the time to write letters. they want to encourage people to slow down for a little bit. oooh, and i forgot to tell you about one of the most fun little rooms–a tiny nook in the front window, across from the tea counter, has steps that lead up to it and then you can sit on floor pillows around a low table while you drink tea and write letters (or chat or do needlework or whatever helps you slow down). he gave me a stamp card (buy 10 cups of tea, get one free) and…. i think i may have to try to fill it up. what a great find! (and the tea was delicious!)

highly recommended.    :) :) :) :)

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