Locale Profile: Schasteâ: The Elephant Room of PVD

 

Broadway is a breakfast hot spot in Providence. Home to Nick’s on Broadway, The Grange, Julians and Seven Stars, the deck is stacked in the brunch-goers’ favor. And now, after two years of discussion, planning and preparations, a new tea and creperie has joined the mix: Schasteâ, partner restaurant of the beloved Elephant Room in Pawtuxet Village.

The Elephant Room has a loyal following for anyone privy to its whereabouts; they’ve been serving tea and crepes, in addition to tea-infused cocktails accompanied by live music, for three years now. But, as I discovered when telling my friends about Schasteâ’s opening, there are still plenty of unchurched people who need to behold the magic that this tearoom has to offer.

Due to copyright laws, “The Elephant Room” could not expand into a Rhode Island chain, so a new name and identity was created for the PVD location. Schasteâ (pronounced “Shas-tee-ah”) not only has the word “tea” in it, but it is the Russian equivalent of the Spanish word alegría, which is a state of happiness. The Lopez family has a tradition of toasting “Cheers to alegría!” – cheers to our joy! —and since the owner’s wife is Russian, Schasteâ was the perfect blend: They managed to infuse joy into the name as much as exotic spices are infused into their teas. Speaking of which, let’s talk about this tea list.

Schasteâ does for tea what Belgium does for beer: The menu is divided by class (white, green, black, oolong, botanical), strength (high caffeine, medium caffeine, caffeine free), and level of exoticism (premium, exotic or rare). Served hot or iced, this amount of variety allows even anti-tea drinkers (like myself, usually) to become giddy over the menu. From Ayurvedic “Happy” tea to Chocolate Monkey to Green Pear, there is a tea for every personality. (For the unwavering coffee drinkers — and I dare you to leave this place without wanting to drink tea — they do serve drip, filter and iced coffee).

On a warm but overcast Saturday, my friend Naia and I went to visit this new spot. Both of us are Elephant Room devotees, so we were curious how this would compare. We snagged an outdoor table, but managed to peer inside.

The interiors are vastly different. Unlike Pawtuxet, where there are two stories of nooks and crannies, couches and Zen paintings, Schasteâ is open and modern: a well-lit, single room decorated in simple beige and white tones, with diner-style tables and ceiling lights with covers resembling upside-down wicker baskets. They are a full-service restaurant, but there is a counter display where patrons can purchase bags of tea and locally baked goods, cold drinks and merchandise. All of the teas are meticulously organized on a shelf behind the counter, and emblazoned on the windows and sidewall are elephant logos, a nod to their Pawtuxet pachyderm origins.

Seated outdoors, we were given menus that looked blessedly familiar: All of the same teas, crepes (16 savory, 14 sweet), salads, yogurt and oatmeal that I’ve come to love. Naia chose a spinach salad with turkey; I ordered the pepperoni and spinach crepe; and for “dessert,” we shared the Mixed Berry Vanilla Blintz. As for teas, she went with an iced White Coconut Crème (which is the tea version of a piña colada: summery and refreshing!), and I ordered the Halo Blooming Tea — white tea infused with blueberry and white peach essence that actually “blooms” inside the teapot. True story: I did a time-lapse video of this, but stopped when the food came out so I could take pictures of the crepes. I have ¾ of a bloom on my camera.

The service was extremely friendly with just a few speed bumps — they kept forgetting minor details, water refills and side plates. But Schasteâ is still within two weeks of opening, and I think these minor kinks will disappear. And the food was perfect.

My garlic and herb-crusted crepe was delicately packed with pepperoni and spinach, as well as kalamata olives and a white cheese that made it taste pizza-like, but worlds healthier. The Berry Blintz was, in fact, dessert, arriving with more whipped cream than I remembered — ohhh sooo good. What I love about the crepes here, and what sets them apart from other creperies, is how light they are. I was able to eat 1.5 crepes, satisfying my sweet and savory teeth, without feeling as though I’d overdone it. They are artfully constructed, and it’s clear there is an expertise to this kind of crepe, from the way they are folded to their texture and consistency.

I’m delighted to see a new location for this tearoom because I can confidently say I will never go anywhere else in Rhode Island for tea or crepes. Cheers — or Schasteâ — to that!

We were saddened to learn that the father of Schasteâ’s owner passed away suddenly last week. Running these two restaurants has always been a family affair, and as head chef (and son) Mario noted, “No one made crepe batter as good as he did.” His presence will be missed terribly by both his family and the patrons who have come to know him. May Francisco “Paco” Lopez’s soul rest in peace.

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