Cauley Square, Homestead FL

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Living in Miami, one of the benefits is that within a one hour radius the landscape is as diverse as our residents.  A kaleidoscope of sun-kissed beaches on the east coastline; horse country to the north and western Miami; and alligators, swampland and agriculture fields to the south. But one common thread throughout each of these areas is history. While Florida is a young state in the Union, we still have pockets of history that are lovingly preserved like a classic white lace dress that belonged to your grandmother.

This past Sunday my mother chose The Tea Room at Cauley Square for Mother's Day brunch.  It was historic, charming and a refreshing change of pace and scenery from glitzy Miami. 

On the road toward Homestead, about 45 minutes south of Miami, is a small historic railroad village built in the early 1900's.  The main building is a flat-iron structure, with its Spanish-style architecture and thick stucco walls faced with coral rock and pine beams, and was constructed by millionaire tomato farmer, William H. Cauley. This sturdy building was used as luxury apartments and a bar and grille. Florida hurricanes were not the only source of stormy history. The main building also closets a tempestuous story of women and hard drinking. Today it's an aviary retail store selling exotic parrots and cockatoos and bird feed and paraphernalia.

The little houses that lie in the shadow of the two-story building, on ten acres, were hand built by the pioneers who farmed and helped Henry Flagler build his "Overseas Highway" to Key West.  As a matter fact, this year we are celebrating the 100 year anniversary of this "8th Wonder of the World" as some referred to the bridge.

New owners have tenderly restored these little houses into antique, specialty shops and art galleries. The Tea Room, Village Chalet restaurant and Latin Corner all offer a variety of food from informal pit stop, to classic sandwiches and teas, to upscale fare and high end wine.  Following the gravel path from house to house, we stumbled upon a crafts store, peered into a paper specialty store where calligraphy and drawing lessons are taught, and of course marveled at the antiques shop.

This was my second visit to Cauley Square and my mother and I made reservations for Mother's Day brunch at the Tea Room. In walking up to the house, spider webs and dirt speckled the fading paint.  I suppose the owners are following wild west Florida tradition where outdoor appearances didn't matter. (Not much has changed in this part of town compared to vanity- obsessed east Miami).  In reading reviews prior to our lunch, the highlight is not the food but the teas and the eclectic collection of antique tables, chairs, white lace curtains and plates adorning the walls in each room.

The lamp at our table
Normally the Tea Room serves soups, salads, desserts and a collector's array of teas. For Mother's Day they offered a special of $39.95 per person plus tax and tip for a three course meal--Soup, salad, entree and dessert with small glass of champagne.  The portions were perfect and not trendy-excessive.  As we waited for each course, our eyes continually gazed around the room and eventually we paused and studied the antique plates on the wall. One set looked exactly like a set belonging to my  mother. We took closeup photos to compare. The results are pending.

Here  is a video of the all the teapots at the Tea Room. There's the Mama cat and two kittens teapot,  the black and white cat teapot (can you detect  my affinity for cats), the strawberry shortcake teapot, the lighthouse teapot,  and many others.

Each room had a theme. Clearly we were in the all antique room. Then there was the "Butterfly room" with a botanical garden painted on the main wall.

 And to the right of the entrance is the white room with white lace curtains and tablecloths even white Christmas lights.  Sincerely, the lights seemed out of place.

So mom and I decided that on our next visit, we would have lunch in the "White Lace Room" and then go strawberry picking.  You see, anytime we make the roadtrip to Homestead (living in downtown we rarely drive more than 20 minutes in any direction) and so this was a field trip where we try to make the most of the day. Homestead is home to acres upon acres of plant nurseries and crop fields. Today, after Cauley Square we headed to Schnebly Winery, the southernmost winery in the U.S. known for its wine made from fruit other than grapes.

For more photos of Mother's Day at the Tea Room and Cauley Square, visit my personal blog, Christine's Joi de Vivre.

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