Chicago’s new Zachary Hotel now offers an old tradition of afternoon tea – Chicago Tribune

A year ago I wrote about Denyse Buck, former owner of the quaint SereniTea tea room in Highland, who features in a number of my published cookbooks, and a favorite name highlighted in my journal columns over the past two decades.

Last month, Denyse and fellow avid reader Betty Pierce, also from Highland, joined me on stage during the farm kitchen segment of my new solo play “Once Upon a Farm” to help bake delicious bread at the pumpkin.

Denyse is also a graduate of Bishop Noll Institute, the oldest Catholic high school in northwest Indiana, which spent much of September 2021 celebrating its 100th anniversary. Among the school events a year ago was an afternoon tea hosted by Denyse and Betty, which is no small feat, because when done well, a tea afternoon and the menu require great attention to detail. My parents and I hosted our own table of delighted guests who happily sipped and chugged the afternoon.

The art of hosting an afternoon tea has become a waning tradition.

For that reason, I was thrilled to discover that The Zachary Hotel, Chicago’s distinctive boutique hotel hotspot a stone’s throw (or a baseball pitch, perhaps) from the Cubs playground at Wrigleyville, now offers afternoon tea services on the last Sunday of the month through October 30. Hotel Zachary’s Holiday Tea, also known as Teddy Bear Tea, is making a comeback this season for family fun.

I describe the impressive Hotel Zachary as “new” because it’s only been open for four years, and it doesn’t seem like the more than two-year break the world has had during the global COVID-19 pandemic should be included for this operational year.

Guests are treated to a quaint, yet quite hearty, bite-by-bite afternoon of tea and unparalleled hospitality in Hotel Zachary’s sprawling, converted booth and landscaped table bar on the lobby level. From 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., afternoon tea services include a round of delicious savory bites and sweet treats, such as spinach and artichoke pies, delicious mushroom pies, cucumber salmon bites, grated beetroot and goat cheese sandwiches, a custardy panna cotta with seasonal fruits, mini BLT crostini and other delicacies for adult appetites. A trio of assorted teas, which includes options with notes of melon as well as the classic Earl Grey, are served.

For kids, another custom-created tower offers everything from ham and cheddar cheese sandwiches to strawberry chocolate-covered Oreos. Thirsty adults also have the option of pairing the libations with their high tea experience, with an extensive menu of specialty cocktails available as well as sparkling wines and a truly standout specialty made from old-school bourbon. (The only traditional dish from the tea menu that seems to be missing are scones with clotted cream and jams and spreads.)

The surrounding decor of bookshelves, vintage furniture, and the warm, established vibe of a mansion library setting is amazing. And most impressively, tea reservations at Hotel Zachary are $45 per adult and $35 per child. Reservations are available at or by calling 773-302-2300.

Inspired by Zachary Taylor Davis, the legendary Chicagoan and world-renowned 1914 architect behind Wrigley Field, The Zachary Hotel blends the best of new and old, and strikes a balance between a refined yet comfortable welcoming atmosphere. The hotel has 173 rooms including 20 suites.

Davis, one of Chicago’s most acclaimed architects, is hailed as the visionary behind Wrigley Field and often considered “the Frank Lloyd Wright of baseball architects” for envisioning, designing and directing the construction of Wrigley Field, once known as Weeghman Park. “the cathedral of baseball.” Davis was born in Aurora, Illinois, studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and, with his wife Alma, raised their children in the Kenwood neighborhood of Chicago.

Another of the delicious selections presented on one of the serving trays during the afternoon tea service is a succulent chicken salad, which incorporates chunks of autumn apples, like one of the tea sandwiches. favorites served, and I have prepared this recipe to share with readers.

Columnist Philip Potempa has published four cookbooks and is the Marketing Director of Theater at the Center. He can be reached at [email protected] or send your questions: From the Farm, PO Box 68, San Pierre, IN 46374.

Makes 12 tea sandwiches

3 cups grilled chicken breast (chopped)

1 cup finely diced fall apples of your choice

1 cup diced celery

1 1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup ranch dressing

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Juice of half a lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Bread: white or wheat


1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.

2. If desired, remove crusts from bread and generously spread prepared chicken salad.

3. Cut sandwiches into diagonal sections and serve.

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