Photo from Grub St.
I had a wonderful photo of my own to go here, of a gorgeous cup of Iron Goddess of Mercy tea next to a plate of beautiful beignets. Alas, my iPhone-to-iPhoto transfers sometimes freeze up and eat my photos. Macs never crash, but the software does. Grrrr.
The purpose of the photo was to entice you, fellow Chicagoans or summer tourists, to visit the Big Jones restaurant in Andersonville. The coastal Southern cooking is scrumptious — their Tuesday night fried chicken special earned it high praise in Bon Appetit — and the red velvet cake made with beets and cocoa is absolutely stunning. We visited for brunch last weekend, and I was once again bowled over by the chow. Catfish for breakfast? Hey, I tried it, on a bed of cheese grits with eggs to order. In a word: momma!
But why I mention them here is because they have a great tea menu (actually, that link is old, the selection we just saw at the restaurant is better). Their sign and advertising includes "tea time" next to "brunch," "dinner" and "cocktails" (hit those four bases and it's a home run, eh?), and there are a dozen excellent teas, from the previously mentioned Iron Goddess to a surprising pu-erh, supplied by Numi. Really, how many basic, genre restaurants have pu-erh on the menu?! Originally, one of the managers said during our brunch, the place hoped to use tea as a late-afternoon attraction — not as an official afternoon tea, but just something to join a late-day, pre-cocktail nosh. It's a Southern place, so the teas can be made iced, of course.
(Also, given the oil spill catastrophe in the Gulf, according to this story even Big Jones' seafood supply has been affected.)