Native Beltonian Vania (pronounced Vanna) and her husband, Hubert Whitfield, a 25-year veteran of the U.S. Army, want you to come and have tea
and lunch with them at their home, a 133-year-old mansion.
Whitfield Manor is on the National Register of Historic Place and houses Meme’s Teapot — a hidden jewel in the former silk stocking district of Belton.
Vania grew up in Belton and said she passed by the house many times as a little girl, never knowing someday she would live in the former Franklin Kellogg Austin mansion. Thirteen years ago, she and Hubert sold their country retirement home and bought the mansion the same day their house sold. She said the home was so beautiful she wanted to share it with others.
“I asked God how I could share the house and a tearoom came to mind,” she said. After getting approval from the City of Belton, Meme’s was created.
Meme’s operated for several years until family illness forces its temporary closure. In September 2016, Meme’s Teapot reopened its doors to the public.
The tearoom is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day except Wednesdays, and Meme’s offers tea lovers a respite from the 21st century.
Driving up to the mansion, it’s hard not to notice the grandeur of this stately two-story building that sits on a corner lot surrounded by a white fence. Its welcoming wrap-around porch complete with rocking chairs is a symbol of a time past.
The moment you step over the threshold and walk through the front door you are greeted with the hospitality of the Whitfields as you leave the pace of the digital society behind. There is a moment of awe as you try to visually absorb all of the period iconography that fills every space of the rooms within the mansion. Antiques, old family photos, tables decorated with gold lace runners and fine china cups waiting to be filled; Victorian furniture, dolls, lamps and lanterns all have a place in this home where high tea takes on a whole new meaning for Central Texans.
Meme’s menu is seasonal and limited to the imagination of its chef, Vania. But don’t ask for a printed menu, there aren’t any. Vania will personally tell you what is being served that day.
Every day there is a soup accompanied by cucumber finger sandwiches (the crust is removed), and a tasty homemade sweet. Her soups change daily and might be tomato basil, cream of potato, French onion or chicken and dumplings.
Walk-ins can choose from an assortment of teas by the pot with their lunch (coffee is available upon request). For patrons looking for a heartier fare, a full-set tea is available by reservation only and includes salad, a larger serving of soup, finger sandwiches, two desserts and a pot of tea. Meme’s tea selections include a choice of green, orange spice, black or Ceylon tea. Don’t be surprised if your hostess delivers your meal wearing a vintage 1880s or turn-of-the-century Victorian dress.
Meme’s seats up to 14 people for tea and groups are welcome.
Vania Whitfield shared her chicken and dumplings recipe with Tex Appeal Magazine with one exception, her flat dumpling recipe is top secret. We’ve included a recipe for a basic dumpling, or use your own favorite recipe.
MEME’S CHICKEN AND DUMPLINGS
- 1 3- to 3½-pound chicken, cut up
- ½ cup sliced carrots
- 1 medium sweet onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- or 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 5 cups water
- 3 teaspoons (or cubes) of chicken bouillon
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ stick of butter
- 1 batch of dumplings (see recipe)
1. Place chicken in a 4-quart Dutch oven and cover with water
2. Bring to a boil and cook until chicken falls off the bone.
3. Remove chicken from pot, debone and discard excess fat.
4. Add the bouillon, carrots, onion, parsley, salt and pepper and dumplings. Bring back to a boil.
5. Replace chicken, heat until creamy.
6. Add one cup heavy cream before serving.
Adapted from allrecipes.com/recipe/6900/dumplings/
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon margarine
- ½ cup milk
1. In a medium size bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in milk to make a soft dough.
2. Drop by spoonfuls into boiling stew. Cover and simmer 15 minutes without lifting lid. Serve.
3. To make parsley dumplings, add 1 tablespoon parsley flakes to the dry ingredients.