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Two stories come together in the new Plat du Jour restaurant at the Wenham Tea House. There is the venerable history of the building, which opened as a teahouse in 1912 and has been operating as such almost continuously since. And there is the story of its latest proprietors, Tara Prescott and Patrick Lord, for whom the space offers a chance to realize long-held culinary dreams.

Together, these two narratives have come together to create a new, yet deep-rooted, experience that combines classic French cuisine, traditional afternoon tea service, and a very rich sense of community history.

“We just thought it was a perfect fit,” Prescott says. “We loved the tradition of the building.”

Photograph by Elise Sinagra

The Wenham Tea House was founded more than 100 years ago by the Wenham Village Improvement Society, an organization formed in 1893 by Wenham women who wanted to contribute to the welfare and beauty of their town. The goal of the operation was to raise funds for the society’s projects and programs, as well as to provide a way for local home-based businesses to sell their wares.

Over the years, the teahouse has been operated by different groups and restaurateurs, but its presence as a community touchstone has remained constant.

“It’s iconic. It means so much to the town of Wenham,” says Kristin Sleeper, current president of the Wenham Village Improvement Society, which still owns the property. “I think a lot of residents just take a lot of comfort driving by and seeing that building there.”

The story of Plat du Jour begins much more recently, during the Covid pandemic. Lord had been a professional chef for 30 years by then, working in a variety of restaurants. Lord and Prescott seized on the opportunity presented by the pandemic, delivering prepared meals to locals who were tired of masked grocery shopping and pizza. “People wanted upscale dining at home,” Prescott says.

The business grew and soon Plat du Jour was catering dinner parties, then larger functions and even weddings. They moved into a space in Peabody where they could cook and sell prepared foods out of a small storefront.

When they heard the Wenham Tea House was looking for a new operator, it seemed like the natural next step, Prescott says. They contacted the society, sent over a business proposal, and beat out the competition.

“We liked their plan to modernize the restaurant a little bit but still stick close to the roots,” Sleeper says. “They were the ones who had the best vision.”

Photograph by Elise Sinagra

Prescott and Lord have pursued that balance of modernity and tradition. They renovated the space, replacing the weathered shingles that lined the dining area with smooth gray walls and crisp white trim, embellished with sophisticated art.

“My whole goal was to keep the elegance and the character, but not look like Grandma’s porch,” Prescott says.

The menu continues the blending of traditional and unexpected. Dinner choices include both classic French dishes like coq au vin, steak frites, and escargot and the fresh Mediterranean flavors of dishes like vegetable tagine and lamb meatballs with tzatziki. Lunch patrons can opt for a niçoise salad, a brie-and-apple grilled cheese, or maybe a bacon-wrapped meatloaf. Brunch indulgences include duck confit hash and croque madam and monsieur sandwiches.

To create the afternoon tea service, available from Thursday through Saturday, Prescott and Lord scouted other venues. Drawing inspiration from the classic elegance of the tea service at the Boston Public Library in Copley Square, Plat du Jour chose plain white teapots and individual strainers that sit over each diner’s cup. The teas on offer range from classics like Earl Grey to more adventurous brews like green tea flavored with lemongrass, blueberry, and vanilla.

The accompanying food, a mix of sweet and savory, arrives on a traditional three-tiered tray. Sizable, tender scones and mini-croissants are served with clotted cream, seasonal jam (delicious fig on a recent visit), and a perfectly tart lemon curd. Finger sandwiches include a sweetly spiced curry chicken salad and cucumber sandwiches accented by the slight peppery sourness of pickled radishes. Petite eclairs, chocolate mousse, and the sugar-powdered Greek nut cookies, kourabiedes, create a sweet finish.

Tying it all together is a dedication to service. All employees are being trained to exacting standards, Prescott says. And the restaurant expects to turn over each table only once each night, letting diners relax into the experience rather than rushing them out the doors.

So far, customers old and new have made the restaurant’s first weeks a success, Prescott says. Reservations have been packed, with walk-ins stopping in as well.

“We’re just getting such an amazing response,” Prescott says.

4 Monument St., Wenham, 339-440-5624,