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New tearoom Floris opening this weekend at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Floris at VMFA promises guests an enjoyable, authentic tea experience. Tearoom staff have been trained in tea culture, inspired in part by classic English and French salon tea service.

Trevor Dickerson

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The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) this week announced that its new dining concept, Floris at VMFA, will open in the museum’s Pauley Center Parlor on Sunday December 10, 2023.

Floris at VMFA will offer guests an enjoyable, authentic tea experience. Tearoom staff have been trained in tea culture, inspired in part by classic English and French salon tea service. Menus will change seasonally and with special exhibitions. Each rotation will offer a culturally enriching experience that links the traditions of tea with VMFA’s global art collection.

“We invite you to take part in this celebration of the world of tea, art and social connection at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts,” said Director and CEO Alex Nyerges. “Floris will have a warm, welcoming atmosphere, and our tearoom staff will work closely with the museum’s education and curatorial teams to tell art-centric stories through its culinary offerings and environment.”

Nestled in the museum’s Richmond campus, Floris at VMFA is in the parlor of the Stan and Dorothy Pauley Center. Guests will enter the tearoom from the E. Claiborne and Lora Robins Sculpture Garden. Noted for its architecture based on eighteenth-century plans for the White House, the Pauley Center — a longstanding favorite location for wedding receptions and soirées — houses elegant and inviting reception rooms restored in the Colonial Revival style.

“Floris at VMFA will be a refreshed interpretation of what a tearoom can be,” said VMFA’s Senior Director for Food Service and Events, Chef Cody Dickey. “Within the historical context of the Pauley Parlor, we will bring new life and meaning to a community-driven tearoom, providing delicious beverages and foods to the diverse and culturally thriving community of Richmond.”

To form a truly bespoke experience, Chef Cody and VMFA Lead Sous Chef Chainey Kuykendall have co-curated a robust tea menu using fresh ingredients from local vendors and importers. Guests may order local handcrafted teas from Dominion Tea in Purcellville, Virginia; Roots Tea Blends, a holistic, Richmond-based Black and Queer-owned tea and lifestyle brand; and Savory Blends Tea Company, a Black woman-owned business in Richmond’s Scott’s Addition neighborhood. There will even be a signature VMFA Blend, thoughtfully composed by chefs Cody and Chainey. This flavorful tea is an aromatic fusion of vanilla, floral and smoky elements that symbolize Richmond’s industrial roots in food extracts, bakeries and tobacco.

Floris at VMFA’s rotating selection will be influenced by tea-centric regions worldwide and will also include a selection of Fortnum & Mason brews. Imported from the U.K., this historic tea has royal recognition. The Royal Blend was originally created for King Edward VII in 1902, and has an iconic, honey-sweet flavor. Floris at VMFA will offer this esteemed cup, as well as Fortnum & Mason’s Earl Grey and Green Tea with Elderflower blends.

Cuisine offerings will include freshly baked breads and internationally inspired dishes, such as Japanese kabocha squash and herbs prepared over traditional Indian puri, and vadouvan spiced chicken salad on fresh brioche. Floris’ changing menu will also present opportunities for special collaborations with local chefs and purveyors of locally sourced ingredients.

Diners will savor these plates in the newly transformed parlor, whose vibrant color palette marries contemporary and historical aesthetics to create a fresh atmosphere. Local artisans have contributed their craft to nearly every decorative detail, from sconces to drapery, ensuring a truly unique and exceptional dining space. Art and tea lovers alike may also purchase a variety of tea accoutrements created by local makers.

Floris at VMFA will be open Sunday through Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. until the last seating at 2:30 p.m. The restaurant will serve a curated menu of specialty teas, savories and sweets for a fixed price. Beer and wine will be available à la carte. VMFA members receive a 10% discount in the museum’s three dining venues. Reservations are strongly recommended, as seating is limited, and can be made on OpenTable beginning on Monday, December 4. Customers with questions can call (804) 340-5785.

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Trevor Dickerson is the Editor and Co-Founder of RVAHub.