Saturday, September 06, 2008

An Alice in Wonderland Night

First Fridays in the King Williams historical district of San Antonio are a wonderful mix of glorious architecture, live music, and art galleries open till late. Last night my friends Jean and Wilma took me to this street fair. We had a ball and intend to go again.

Dinner was at the Mad Hatter's Tearoom which, as it's name implies, is straight out of "Alice in Wonderland". The food is eclectic, very good, and reasonably priced. My choice was half a turkey sandwich with spinach, tomatoes, chipotle cream cheese, and pickled onion, accompanied by a cup of chicken florentine soup. Once seated I started looking around and brought out the camera. I asked my friends if people in the area were okay with people taking pictures all the time and upon being reassured started taking pictures of everything that caught my eye. And I could have taken more. This is just the bare bones of this fantastic place.

This picture, taken from the inside, shows the window sign and happy hour banner. There are fresh flowers on all the tables and you can tell from the cars parked outside that things are starting to get lively. Finding parking on this night is hard to do, but we were lucky to find one right in front of an old house where the driveway had been moved. I guess the lack of a curb had fooled some folk. Not our Wilma.

This is the hallway to their secondary room. I liked the way this row of windows provides light and a good view of everyone who was walking by outside. Before we finished eating there was a steady stream of folk walking past.

On the front left you see an amplifier being set up for live music later in the evening. The performers were coming in one by one while we dined. Our evening of wandering took in the main street and then came back for refreshments and to sit and listen to the group. The dessert Wilma and I shared was decadent. It looked like some kind of layered cheese cake concoction. There was creamy coconut filling at the top, a lovely cake like chocolate crust and when you bit into the cheese, ohmygosh, it was filled with those dark liqueur like cherries that made you think of cherry cordial candies.

Remember how in Wonderland, every cup at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party was different? And you picked your place to sit at by the type of cup you wanted? The same held true here. Some of these cups are quite nice. It had me wondering how long it took them to collect all these different ones. There was a very large selection of teas to choose from too. Trying some of them will be one of my goals the next time we visit.

Jean pointed out the sign for take out shown here. "I'm late! I'm late! For a very important date!" the rabbit cried. He kept looking at his pocket watch and running down the trail till he jumped down a rabbit hole. And Alice followed him down the hole. Not here...she got take out and left to wander the streets.

Jean also pointed out these shelves and this very large economy sized cup up at the cash register. She's got a great eye for detail. She is the one who took this picture, and I think she did a good job of it. My view was obstructed by flowers and the place was so crowded that handing her the camera was a better choice than getting up and moving around.

This is the performance area where the quartet was setting up. The pictures on the wall caught my eye and made for an interesting background when they were performing later. There were no for sale signs, so I think these belonged to the restaurant.

Stopping to wash our hands on the way out we encountered the waiting lounge, and the feelings of gracious comfort were extended there as well. The seating room was fitted with several chairs, a table or two, and lots of whimsy. Waiting my turn, I couldn't resist taking pictures of all the bits and pieces that make up the flavor of this place. It's absolutely amazing how much detail went into this lovely little restaurant.

Here's the Mad Hatter himself. I loved the way he's dressed and it is a very child attractive doll, as you can tell from the missing fingers on his left hand and the bandage on his foot. Because it has porcelain hands, I'm guessing this is an antique and hope it wasn't damaged beyond keeping its value.

There was a built in curio cabinet with some fragile items enclosed in wooden cubbyholes and protected by glass. These two cats are shaped teapots.

Above a set of bookshelves I saw this fantastic sight. That cup has to be bigger than my upper torso. "Will you have one lump or two," asked the Hatter?

"Two please," said Alice.

Here's what the well read tea lover would have in their library. Notice the title of the book on the right? All of us chuckled over that one. I'm delighted with the way this picture turned out. You can clearly read every title on the spines and I was thrilled to notice that a Harry Potter book was among the selections.

This other cup was above the curio cabinet in the corner. And there was another one just like it in the opposite corner.

As we were getting ready to head out the door this painting caught my eye. Thanks to some details of her work, which San graciously shared with me, my attention to detail in art has improved and I noticed that this was in 3D. My curiosity peaked I got closer. The colors are varied, dappled, and intense. I like the way the location of the eyes are defined by the the white surrounding the iris.

Trying to get a better defined image showing the three dimensional nature of this painting I took this angled shot. I'm don't think it caught the bas-relief effect of the facial features as I'd hoped, but it does show the window which opens your view to the next room, see that small chair top in the lower corner of the window, and from there out the window behind it into the outdoors. While the front of the restaurant looks business enough like, the layout seems to be more like a Victorian style house with lots of windows looking every which way and into different rooms.

Learning from San, I took a couple of details hoping to show you the amount of work and creativity that went into this painting. Here's the eye because that iris defined by a single curve of white struck me as a very creative way to do them.

And here is the mouth. From a distance the lips look pursed to me, but close up they look puckered. While the overall expression of the face doesn't make me think of romance, more a pensive, sly kind of look, the lips in close up give the image of a mouth getting ready for a kiss.

Then we left. And while I had my camera in my pocket, with every intent of taking tons of pictures, I was just too nervous about dropping it and we were doing almost non stop walking and looking in the middle of a crowd. So I didn't take any more photos. My plan is to try to do better the next time we go, because I fully intend to go back again!


murat11 said...

Nice tour of First Friday at the Hatter's, Lee. Madhatter's used to a very cool place back in the last century called Cafe Beauregard, nifty afternoon cafe in the afternoon, gay bar at night. It's a great location.

Great pictures and commentary. As it turns out, I was down at King William last night meself: a student of mine had an exhibit with her grandmother at Casa Margherita: her abuela took the photographs and she did the writing that accompanied them: all writing that she had done in my class throughout the year, last year.

Good to see you back in blogtopia. I particularly liked the pic of the china cups upside down on their saucers.

Lee said...

Thanks Paschal. Too bad we didn't run into one another. 'T would've been nice. Rec's new young adult group was supposedly down there too although we saw neither hide nor hair of them. We did run into a onetime member of our church. That was pleasant.

Good deal for your student! Sounds like you and she are turning out quality work!

That cup image is one of my faves too. :) Glad you like it. See you manana.


david mcmahon said...

Without doubt, that is my kinda place, Lee!!

Lee said...

David, if you ever come and visit Texas I promise you a guided tour of San Antonio and as much of the surrounding area as we can fit in.


San said...

Such a fanciful place, Lee. And your pictures are outstanding. I believe my favorite is the assortment of teacups on the rack.

I really enjoyed the various views of that painting too. And I am honored that you mentioned me in reference to the way you look at art.

P.S. Since I'm on my home laptop, I can view your blog, but it still ain't happenin' at the gallery. As I told you, every single site on the world-wide-web will load EXCEPT for any site that ends in And when I take this laptop to the gallery, the same thing happens. It's very frustrating. It means I can't visit blogs, including my own, during the daytime. Major bummer.

Lee said...

Thank you, San! Your appreciation of my photography efforts means a lot to me. Your friendship means even more.

You and Paschal both like that shot. Guess you two truly are kindred spirits. :)

I'm glad you have one place in the world where you can blog. I'll go a looking and see if I can find anything that might indicate why it is such a problem.


jsd said...

Madhatters - when it was at it's old location was the first place that the wife and I met; it's where the lesbian book club she and her friend started had the group meet. The photos bring back memories - I'm glad y'all had a wonderful time.

Lee said...

Wow, that's cool, JS! Thanks! I'm glad the photos bring back happy memories for you both. Maybe someday you and wife can go there again, with me along.

Where was it's old location? Being the distracted person that I am I was too busy looking at bright things and watching out for cars to notice the street sign. Would have been hard to notice it over the singers, tables, and lines showing a plethora of t shirts. :)


Louise said...

What a fun place to go! Thanks for your well-written review and photos.

Over from Authorblog.

Lee said...

Hi Loise! Thank you for the compliment. I'm delighted that you like my writing and the pictures. Welcome to my corner of the web! Feel free to come and visit anytime.


Shrinky said...

Oooooh, sounds like my kind of evening. Great shots!

Saz said...

love the close up of the mouth, and its a beaut!! well done on post of the day!!

Lee said...

Thank you, Shrinky! Hope you're feeling better today.

From what I've learned from friends this place is so popular that it was able to move from one "hoity toity" location in town to a better one and still have business booming. :)

Come visit someday! You'd have no end of photo opportunities.

Joy! said...

Lee...congrats on the award! I LOVE Alice-Everything....and this place is on my list of 'must sees' now! Thank you!! Your photos tickled me!!


Lee said...

Thanks Sara! Glad you popped in! I'll be over to check out your place shortly.

Yeah, that mouth is something isn't it. I wondered how much paint or what they had to build up to make it extend that far off the canvas. Nose was even farther but it wasn't as cool as those lips. :)

Come back anytime1


Lee said...

Thank you, Carol! I love Alice too! That's one of the reasons I put jabberwocky on my play list. I can think of no childhood story that compares to it although Winnie has to come close.

If you show up in San Antonio, TX give me a hollar. We could get together at the Hatter's for tea!


Cath said...

Oooh it sounds fabulous! What a great place.

Over from David's.

Lee said...

Hi Cath! It is indeed fabulous! Glad you liked the post and pictures. When I go back again I'll get more. :)


San said...

Lee, I just saw this post got Post of the Day at David's. Most deserving, milady!

Lee said...

Thank you, San! I noticed that your birthday post got Post of the Day too...the very next day. :) More than deserving, milady!


david mcmahon said...

Looking forward to your next update, Lee .....

Lee said...

Hi David! So am I. :)


Sandi McBride said...

Wow there's a place I'd love to visit. Has it been there long? Lovely photo's, especially loved the teapots and teacups...the painting is fantastic...

Lee said...

Hi Sandi! Come to Texas! I'll take you and Mac over there!

Yes, according to Paschal it has been in this location for a bit and before that was elsewhere so the popular theme moved locations.

Glad you dropped in!


david mcmahon said...

I could be the Mad Hatter next time!

Lee said...

LOL I'll buy you The Hat, David! But I'm gonna want photographic evidence that you wore it. :)