Miss Lexington’s Greentree Tearoom? Make this delicate soup recipe to bring it back.

·1 min read

It would be easy to pigeonhole Greentree Tearoom as a “ladies who lunch” place. And it was. But it wasn’t JUST that.

The downtown Lexington tea room, which served luncheon teas with a monthly prix fixe menu, was the kind of place were patrons could focus on each other and leave the always excellent food to chef John Martin.

Greentree Tearoom opened at 525 W. Short St. in 2000 in an historic cottage by Martin, Gay Reading and Karen Wiley Hollins. Reading said originally they thought it would be a place for quick business lunches. But the ladies “sort of took it over,” he said.

With elegant antiques, understated decor, white tablecloths, fresh flowers, real silverware and china to complement the food, Greentree Tearoom became the backdrop for occasions for generations of Lexingtonians.

Karen Wiley Hollins, one of the owners of the Greentree Tea Room is shown with Greentree’s Carrot and Ginger Soup.
Karen Wiley Hollins, one of the owners of the Greentree Tea Room is shown with Greentree’s Carrot and Ginger Soup.
The Benedictine spread at the Greentree Tearoom, in this April 2015 file photos, was a favorite of many patrons.
The Benedictine spread at the Greentree Tearoom, in this April 2015 file photos, was a favorite of many patrons.

Reading said the restaurant hosted several weddings as well as gatherings after memorial services and everything in between from birth celebrations to Sweet 16 parties and bridesmaid lunches. “We were cradle to grave,” he said in 2021.

The menu changed every month but always included seasonal scones with Fayette cream, savories such as egg salad finger sandwiches and cucumber slices with benedictine, quiches, soups, salads, pastries and desserts. And always tea, never coffee.

The hot brown and Benedictine spread at the Greentree Tearoom were typical of the luncheon menu at the popular Lexington dining spot.
The hot brown and Benedictine spread at the Greentree Tearoom were typical of the luncheon menu at the popular Lexington dining spot.
Rob Hawkins served tea to, from left, Nelia Padgett, Shar Montgomery, and Sheila Hancock at Greentree Tearoom where only tea, no coffee, was served, in May 2003.
Rob Hawkins served tea to, from left, Nelia Padgett, Shar Montgomery, and Sheila Hancock at Greentree Tearoom where only tea, no coffee, was served, in May 2003.

According to the Herald-Leader archives, in 2001 Teresa Sharkey of Washington, D.C. and her mother Zelma Sharkey of Lexington asked for the recipe for Greentree’s carrot and ginger soup after having lunch there and Martin obliged.

The tea room closed in March 2020 as the pandemic began. The owners hoped to reopen but by mid-2021 acknowledged that the restaurant would not be coming back and chose to focus instead on their antiques business.

The Greentree Tearoom opened on Short Street in Lexington in 2000. It closed when the pandemic hit in March 2020.
The Greentree Tearoom opened on Short Street in Lexington in 2000. It closed when the pandemic hit in March 2020.
From left, John Martin Jr., Karen Wiley Hollins, and Gay Reading, standing outside the house that have bought on West Short Street in February 2000. They remodeled it and turned it into a tea room and antiques shop.
From left, John Martin Jr., Karen Wiley Hollins, and Gay Reading, standing outside the house that have bought on West Short Street in February 2000. They remodeled it and turned it into a tea room and antiques shop.

From the Herald-Leader archives