Friday, January 20, 2012

Halle Bros. Almond Rarebit

The first time I ate the curiously-named Welsh Rarebit, pronounced like "rabbit," I was at the Pavilion Tea House in Greenwich, England. I had just enjoyed a terrific visit aboard the Cutty Sark, the famous tea clipper ship in dry dock, and I had stopped for a bite to eat. I wasn't quite sure what Welsh Rarebit actually was, but it sounded like the sort of thing one should have in England, so I did. And it was basically cheese and toast--good cheese and toast, but cheese and toast just the same.

Legend has it that the name is a corruption of the word "rabbit," which in England was the poor man's meat. The "meat" of the poor in Wales was said to be cheese, and thus the name Welsh Rarebit. This dish was one served at the Halle Bros. Tea Room in Cleveland, Ohio, and I decided to make it for supper one night. It's fast and easy comfort food with an interesting history, and a tea room connection to boot.

Halle's Almond Rarebit
Adapted from the booklet "Holiday Treats and Elegant Buffet Dishes"

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons flour (add another spoonful if needed to thicken)
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 cup milk
1 cup whipping cream
A drop or two of Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Melt butter in top of double boiler and using a whisk, stir in flour, mustard, salt and paprika. Stir in milk and cream slowly until smooth and thick. Add Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce and cheese. Whisk until lumps disappear. Pour over toast. Sprinkle generously with almonds. Yields 6 servings.

Halle's and its tea room seem to be on my radar this winter, because I recently came across an old pewter looking teapot online which came from the Halle's Tea Room. Now while I have various china pieces from old department stores (like the Strawbridge & Clothier teacup I wrote about last week), I have only a few teawares that I'm sure were actually used in the store's tea room. This 5-1/2-inch-tall teapot is one such piece, and I know that because ... is marked "The Halle Bros. Co. Tea Room" on the bottom. A fun find, and I'd love to think some customer had tea poured from it to enjoy with her Halle's Almond Rarebit! (Question: Would you try polishing this or leave it as is? Maybe I could try a spot on the back?)


  1. What a great piece -- I would polish the tea pot but I love things polished -- that's just me. And what a find! We've been to Greenwich but the Cutty Sark was undergoing restoration so we didn't get to see it -- we did have a Sunday pub lunch at their famous pub but alas, no tea!

  2. Thank you so much for explaining Welsh Rarebit. I just read it again in a story, and wondered if they were really having rabbit.

  3. Lovely find! And enjoyed the rarebit information! My thoughts about your question, I think you can try polishing it, but I doubt that you will get it back to its pristine former self. Either way, it's a treasure!

  4. What a delightful post!

    I grew up on Lake Erie and Cleveland was about 2.5 hours away. We did get some Cleveland tv and radio broadcasts. We did shop downtown, but not too often as Mom preferred to drive to Toledo downtown, which was ALSO about 2
    hours away.

    I remember an old store jingle from Halle's! It went something like:

    Mr. Jigaling, are you jingling, keeper of the keys - on Halle's seventh floor we'll be waiting for you to turn the key......I remember the tune more than the words. I was LITTLE and find it difficult to believe I even remember it, but my brothers and sisters and I sang it all the time. I am not even sure it was an ad or what. Was the toy store on 7th or something? I will have to ask the older brother, he would know for sure!

    I would leave the pot as is.

    Thank you for the recipe,too! I always wondered what it was but because I thought it was actually rabgit I never investigated. Looks to be comfort food for sure!

  5. My grandfather introduced me to Welsh Rarebit as a young child...perhaps five or six...and I remember being VERY reluctant to even look at the plate when it was set in front of me, and quite delighted (and relieved) to realize it was not actually rabbit. Fun memory! Your recipe looks yummy...I'm going to have to try it and see if I can introduce it to my own grandbabies some year soon! :)

  6. I would love that teapot either way, shiny or not. What a treasure. When I first started getting interested in tea parties I took a class on afternoon tea through the community college and she made Welsh Rarebit. It was a fun introduction to afternoon tea and I think of that class whenever I hear someone mention the Rarebit. Have never tried making it though.

  7. I would leave it. But since it is not my teapot do what makes you happy. I bet it would be gorgeous polished.
    Thank you for sharing the recipe. I now have a Halles recipe file.

  8. Oh, you've brought back a good memory for me -- my mother making rarebit for lunch on a cold winter day when I was about 5 or 6.

  9. I've never known what Welch Rarebit was - thank you for sharing the recipe. I may try to convert down to two servings & try it.

    I would try to polish the teapot, just research well & maybe start on the bottom of the pot.

  10. How nice to find another tearoom piece for your collection. The Rarebit looks good.

  11. I would probably leave the pewter as is - but that's just me, I think it adds to it's character and story. However, if you want to polish you might want to try this tip I found since it looks pretty heavily oxidized and just going at it with typical polish probably wouldn't do much.

  12. Great column, today Angela and I love the posts written in, especially Michele's memories of Halle's - that is so neat. In a way, 'Tea with Friends' serves as a type of 'Ambassador' that brings readers together and encourages the 'sharing' of tea-time memories of days gone by. Just love your site and thanks also for sharing the recipe, Joanie

  13. ps: I love the teapot in its current state - seems to fit the 'olde' look, Joanie


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