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Nov 26, 2001 04:08 PM

Tea/Tranquility in Manhattan?

  • t

Hi hounds!

One of my best friends is getting married, and so three of us plan to get together on Saturday to help her plan the wedding. We are looking for a place that serves tea and pastries, that will let us hang out for a few hours without harassment. I am a big fan of Tea and Sympathy on Jane Street and would love to find a place like that (cozy atmosphere, great tea, and yummy cakes and things...don't care about the entrees for this event, which I know are so-so at T + J) that doesn't have the pressure of lines of people waiting outside. Does such a thing exist in Manhattan? A hotel tea lounge might do, but I don't know of any particular one. Any help would be much appreciated.

The Pie Queen

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  1. The Inn at Irving Place serves a formal set tea in the afternoons (tea, scones, sandwiches). It is more expensive than Tea and Sympathy but the atmosphere is great - very old world, European feeling. You need a reservation and they would probably let you sit for a few hours.

    12 Replies
    1. re: Aimee

      I just happened to see a passing reference today to a Wild Lily Tea Room ( just love that name!) somewhere on Tenth Avenue(?)in the west 20s(?). I can't recommend the place, never having been (and it's not listed in Zagat), but perhaps some other Chowhound can illuminate you. Might be just the thing you're looking for. ss600

      1. re: scott

        Here is a link to the Wild Lily web site.


        1. re: Maria
          The Pie Queen

          Hey all,

          Thanks for your suggestions. I have heard of the Wild Lily Tea Room, and have been meaning to check it out sometime. The Inn at Irving Place sounds great too. But all are really too formal for this outing. We don't want a big to-do, we just want to be able to nurse a pot of tea for a few hours and have a muffin without getting sour looks from the waiter. The girl who's getting married said, "Oh, we can just go to Starbucks," which is what prompted my mission to find someplace with a soul. :)

          Any other ideas?

          1. re: The Pie Queen

            Hi Pie Queen -- Here's a link to a recent thread on the Outer Boroughs board that discusses a number of NYC tea houses that you might like. Enjoy!


            1. re: Dennison
              The Pie Queen

              Thanks for all your suggestions, hounds. You guys rock.

              Just to follow up, here's what the three of us did: we had breakfast at the Bus Stop, which is one of my old west village faves. Solid diner food at diner prices, with a really lovely atmosphere (lots of wood, big tall windows, flower arrangements). It's by Abingdon square, where Hudson Street and 8th Avenue converge. Then we walked south towards the Grey Dog, which (I realized when we walked in) I have been to before, a few years ago! Though the decor and vibe were what we were looking for, it was /packed/- too crowded for sitting around drinking tea and looking at wedding magazines. Also, a sign notified us of a $5 per person minimum during brunch...while we probably could have spent $5 over the course of a few hours, we agreed that they probably wouldn't be too happy with our loitering. And with people waiting for tables to eat brunch, I'd just feel bad sitting there forever. So, we went to Caffe Raffaela on 7th ave near 11th street. Not being as much of a brunch spot as Grey Dog, and also having lots of table soutside due to the crazy warm weather, Raffaela had plenty of room for us to settle in. That place is cute...dim, romantic lighting, funky old mismatched chairs. The pastries etc. aren't great but it's fine for tea, or a salad. So that's the scoop!

              -Pie Queen

            2. re: The Pie Queen

              The Wild Lily really isn't very formal at all. The servers were very nice when I was there. They weren't trying to rush us at all and we had just ordered one tea each. I was surprised that in such a serene place my family's loud and exuberant conversational style was not looked down upon at all.

              What about a place like the Grey Dog on Carmine St. It's a cute place with good muffins and such. Not a teahouse by any means but beats the pants off of Starbucks.

              1. re: iron frank

                I love Grey Dog--good bread, decent coffee, and staff who would never notice if you stayed there all day--but it's not necessarily the place for a big group, as it gets rather crowded (particularly during the NYU school year and at weekend brunch). I like T Salon on 20th off of Broadway; it's not as frou-frou as the places uptown, and, while I prefer the cuisine & atmosphere at Tea & Sympathy, unlike that joint, they don't rush you out and I've never had to wait for a table.

                1. re: deb-in-billyburg

                  Yeah, I'm a T-Salon fan also. The atmosphere is decently cozy, the tea selection and service are good, and they have some decent scones and cakes. I had a nice Earl Grey chocolate cake there a while back.

                  1. re: Peter Cuce

                    I'm glad someone mentioned this place (T-Salon). I attended a bridal shower here recently and it was lovely. They let us use the upstairs room, provided copious tea and sandwiches/cakes, and I think it only cost about $20 each. I particularly liked the approach to presenting the tea -- a waiter would come out and announce each one:"This is Tibetan Sunrise. It is a black tea with orange rind, vanilla, and..." See if you can do the same. We had a great time.

              2. re: The Pie Queen
                Caitlin Wheeler

                I love Caffe Reggio on MacDougal between Bleecker and W. 3rd. It's a little Italian Cafe with tea and coffee and light food. Also, try Caffe Vivaldi, on Jones between Bleecker and W. 4th. Fireplace, classical music, and usually not crowded. Grey Dog's Coffee on Carmine between Bedford and Bleecker is another good alternative. All these places shouldn't be a problem to sit for a while as long as it's not mealtime.

            3. re: scott

              I was going to reccomend the Wild Lily. It's got a very asian bend to it. Not sure how good the pastries are but the entrees looked like some decent japanese influenced pasta/ricey things. Atmosphere is calming but you can still speak freely. Teas are all excellent and reasonably priced for the area. It's squeezed in amongst a row of fine galleries making for some fun exploring afterward.


            4. re: Aimee

              I thought this place was terrible. The scones were hard as rocks.

            5. While having afternoon tea at the Palm Court at the Plaza Hotel, I noticed a group of people had reserved tables. Their sandwiches, fruit, desserts were on a round buffet table. Looked about 4 tables were reserved. I imagine it was expensive because the children were dressed better than me. I wasn't overly impressed with the afternoon tea for the expensive price; I've had better afternoon tea at half the price--unfortunately, that tea room in Baltimore no longer exists except for parties.

              1. if yr just looking for something informal, try 'space untitled' (or is it 'untitled space'?) on greene st. just south of houston. it's cavernous and has lots of tables. the pastries are really good, though the tea selection only amounts to things like twinings. but it sounds like you're really mainly looking for somewhere to sit and this is definitely the place. you can hang out there for hours without anyone giving you a nasty look. i find the atmosphere pretty pleasant, though others might find it a bit stark. they do a really good fruit smoothie, too.

                1 Reply
                1. re: lacy

                  space untitled can be pleasant, although I haven't liked it since they renovated a few years back. However, on the weekends it's an absolute zoo. You won't find any tranquility there.

                2. Just a quick note if you are interested in the Wild Lilly - occasionally they have small string instrument recitals which I believe are pre-booked.

                  Ps. The menus are worth the trip alone - beautiful.

                  1. There's also a place on 13th St near Parsons called The' Adore' with a cozy upstairs room. They have great little tarts and cookies there (and tea, of course).