People drive for miles to dine at this inviting lunch spot in Carrollton.
Who’s the crybaby?
That might be a legitimate question for a first time customer at The Lavender Tea Room at Crybaby Farm and Gifts in Carrollton, MO. Because at first glance there seems nothing to cry about at this charming and airy tea room located on the east side of town on a huge green lot surrounded by large shade trees.
In fact, things even get better inside the reconfigured mid-20th-century house where the Lavender Tea Room shares the building with the gift shop, both owned and operated by Caroline Ehney. She opened the tea room in October 2017 after operating the gift shop in Carrollton for three years. Kansas City area residents might remember that Ehney operated the original Crybaby Farm and Gifts in Liberty, MO, before moving to Carrollton.
“I wanted it to be like an English bistro tearoom,” Ehney said, who also is an interior designer. Large windows pour plenty of natural light into the main dining area where tables topped with white tablecloths await the day’s lunch crowd. “The tearoom is in honor of my mother and my father. They were my inspiration. My dad loved tearooms and finding them and going to them became a ritual for us.”
Ehney’s family history involves a farm — Crybaby Farm — that provides a never-ending series of motifs that she uses to create the mood at The Lavender Tearoom. The farm, which is located nearby, dates from 1868.
“Crybaby Farm is an enchanting and comfortable place, where the horses tell people jokes, the ducks tell chicken jokes and both critters and people laugh ‘til they cry!” Ehney maintains. “The home was built in the mid-1800s and is a flashback to the days of history. The original smokehouse, an old schoolhouse and an early 1900s barn still stand. We are blessed to pass through this piece of history and will continue to preserve the integrity of this homestead for future generations,” Ehney said.
That family feeling pervades the enterprise as the staff of The Lavender Tearoom kick into high gear as lunch patrons begin arriving and filling the room on a rare warm day in early spring. Chef Stacy Adams runs the kitchen and manages a menu that changes weekly. Prospective diners can get a look at the menu on Facebook before making the trip to Carrollton if they choose. Servers, Cyndrea Lambert and Florence Schimmel, complete the crew and banter with lunch guests as they take their orders.
On the day of our visit the tea room’s menu included chicken salad and croissant, a must-have entrée at any tearoom, and it was excellent. Other selections included a spinach artichoke gourmet grilled cheese sandwich or French onion soup with spring lettuce mix. The carrot cake for dessert deserves its “legendary” status, but others may prefer the bourbon chocolate pecan pie.
If you can’t decide what to order, you might just want to purchase a copy of “Time to Eat at Crybaby Farm”, a collection of recipes from Crybaby Farm’s family and friends.
And speaking of family, Ehney opens her doors to the younger set as well as she plans several “nursery teas” designed for children ages 4 through 10.
“The term ‘nursery tea’ in England resulted from children having tea with their nannies in their nurseries,” Ehney said. “At The Lavender Tea Room ‘Nursery Tea Parties’ are designed to indulge our young guests in a sophisticated atmosphere and a delicious tea fare such as jam tarts, cookies and tiny sandwiches. Besides the fun experience of sharing tea time, the children will also discover some rules of etiquette.” The nursery teas can be scheduled between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.
Yet Ehney schedules plenty of “adult” gatherings at The Lavender Tea Room, such as seminars on wine and wine pairings. The carefully selected wine offerings will take you around the world from California to France and Germany. Bottles may be purchased to take home as well as to be enjoyed with a meal. Plenty of wine accessories are also available for sale.
People in north Missouri have discovered it and groups arrive for lunch from all of the surrounding towns and some from Kansas City too.
“We love having people here,” Ehney said. Oh yes, who’s the crybaby? As Ehney explains that once a crying, lonely and hungry cat wandered onto the farm. “We named her ‘Crybaby’ for obvious reasons. It wasn’t long before we realized we had a large bunch of ‘crybabies’ living on our farm with the horses, dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, geese and, of course, people. Our crybabies are always hungry and it seems most of the crying around Crybaby Farm is a reminder that it is time to eat!”
Lunch is served year-round, 11 a.m.–2 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. Crybaby Farm and Gifts and The Lavender Tea Room are located at 900 N. U.S. Hwy. 65, Carrollton, MO 64633. Phone: 816-808-9899.