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Jan 16, 2008 08:27 AM

tea and sympathy

has anyone been to this restaurant/tea shop in the west village? i want to take my boyfriend (who's british) there for his birthday but i don't want it to be a cheesy, wannabe british tea shop. anyone have any other ideas for authentic british fare?

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  1. Tea and Sympathy is very authentic and very tiny. The food is homey and on Sunday they offer a roast beef dinner complete with Yorkshire pudding. The afternoon tea is a bit of a rip-off but this place is the real-deal and not wannabe at all.

    One warning, the ventilation in T&S is awful and there is a very good chance you will leave with a lingering odor of beef fat on your clothing.

    1. I like T&S. Yes, it is the real deal. You and your bf will be VERY intimate there since it is miniscule. Lovely, lovely scones with clotted cream.

      1. They are the real deal. They also own A Salt and Battery up the block which is the real deal for fish and chips. Also, you should take him to Myers of Keswick on Hudson for pork pies, bangers, Cadbury bars, crisps, scones and clotted cream to take home. Cheerio!

        2 Replies
        1. re: guttergourmet

          thank you for these great suggestions!!!!

          mmm it's all making me so hungry! :)

          1. re: guttergourmet

            If only T&S were bigger! Everytime I go it's always packed so I get my pie fix at Myers. Of course one really can't complain about having to eat Myers' pies.

          2. Highly recommended! My bfriend is English as well and he loved it. It really is TINY and they don't accept reservations so you may need to wait outside for a little while (seriously, there's just no space to wait inside). They also have a shop next door which sells (at a markup) traditionally British products like Coleman's horseradish. Sunday roast is fab. Sticky toffee pudding is amazing. There's also the Spotted Pig, which doesn't serve traditional English fare but it is a gastropub and it will likely be somewhat reminiscent of pubs in England. Some people believe their burger is the best in the city (it's definitely good but I beg to differ) but overall, the food is pretty good. Warning: they do not accept reservations and if you plan on going during the weekend, go early!! The place gets jam packed during peak times and you can expect waits of over an hour for a table for two.

            3 Replies
            1. re: JC6147

              I am a bit surprised no one has mentioned Lady Mendl's on Irving Street. This is a consummate tea and crumpets place. Highly rated.

              1. re: idia

                Being a Brit I have been to Tea and Sympathy and while it did satisfy some of my longings for some childhood memory-related candy etc. I kinda think it's more a place you'd take your mom or grandmother...a little bit twee...also, you can now get brit groceries in many supermarkets such as food emporium at lower prices.

                Can't comment on the food they serve but I can say the spotted pig is the place for british style gastropub cooking. Awesome. Just like the pubs back home but with some seriously good food...

                1. re: Scotty100

                  Twee? You've obviously never been there when Nicky's talking politics...I'd hate to have my grandmother (long gone) hear that language!

            2. having a British husband, my only worry would be, he might like a fish and chip shop, rather than a tea shop. You could always take him out to the boroughs for an adventure; the chip shop (fifth ave and 6th street) in Brooklyn is really good. They have a great chip buddie (sp?).

              9 Replies
              1. re: fayehess

                I don't really consider T&S a tea shop. It's more like a tiny restaurant that serves British food and also does a tea. I don't consider the decor and setting twee whatsoever.

                1. re: KTinNYC

                  It is kind of like tea shops in England though, which are not so twee at all,but I have to stick to my guns on this one.

                  1. re: fayehess

                    I've been to England, Ireland, and Scotland and this is not like the prototypical tea shop. Stick to your guns all you want.

                    1. re: KTinNYC

                      I am really sorry if I hit on a sore point. I think Tea and Sympathy is a great place. I only meant that it is more like the tea shops that I have been to in Scotland or England (never been to Ireland) in the sense that unlike teashops in the States, they don't cater exclusively to women; I was just thinking that in my experience I have never known an expat Brit to seek out a tea shop for a celebration meal. I could also be completely wrong about this. Everybody's different. Sorry again, if I offended you.

                      1. re: fayehess

                        I am curious to know your impression of Lady Mendl's on Irving Street. Have you ever had their tea and clotted cream, etc.?

                        1. re: idia

                          Fayehess I agree with you the UK its extremely unlikely you got to a tea shop for a celebration! Those who frequent tea shops in the UK tend to be (and I know this is a sweeping generalization that I will probably be castigated for but there you go):

                          1) Over 50 yrs old
                          2) Probably your great aunty or grandmother
                          3) or tourists

                          Ok, maybe my comment on T&S being "twee" was not entirely correct...maybe a better description based on this Brit's exeperience would be "Kitschy" or "Gimmicky"...perhaps not aimed at the British ex-pat community but more for our American cousins or indeed foreign tourists...:)

                          I think the OP would be better off going to the Spotted Pig...much more authentic in terms of "Britishness" than T&S...if authenticity is the main objective, that is...

                          1. re: Scotty100

                            How is the roast beef and Yorkshire pudding? I've been trying to get my husband to go there on a sunday night for ages.

                            1. re: BW212

                              I'm no expert but I really like it and I have friends from the UK that go regularly for the roast dinner.

                              1. re: KTinNYC

                                Perhaps the problem with the different views on this subject have to do with a post I just found on another thread. There seems to be a huge difference between "afternoon tea" and "high tea."
                                Here is the post:

                                "I don't mean to be a snoot, but High tea and afternoon tea are very different things.
                                If what you are after is a dainty afternoon repast of scones, watercress sandwiches and other tasty treats (which judging from the Plaza reference, I think you are), you can go to Podunk, on East 5th between 2nd and 3rd. The proprietress makes delectable baked goods and does full cream tea service. It is a homey place.
                                High tea is basically just an early dinner"