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Afternoon Tea on a Saturday

I am thinking of taking my mother and aunt to tea on the Saturday before Mother's Day. I am looking for an impressive atmosphere with gracious service, as well as the full (traditional) tea treatment (savory and sweet). I have never been to full-service tea in NY before, and would appreciate any tips. I have searched the boards, but have not found too much info that is current re: traditional tea for adults. It can be hip, just not too juvenile or "hipster", please. Budget and neighborhood are not too much of a concern. Thank you :)

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  1. vvv
    The nicest high tea service I've ever enjoyed was served in the Palm Court of the Plaza, but that probably doesn't exist anymore.. :-{
    I also had a great afternoon tea experience at the 4 Seasons Hotel. It was an a lovely room off the lobby.Service was wonderful and they served a wide variery of delicious offerings. Here's a bit more information..
    "On the west side of the East 57th Street lobby, TY is an intimate lounge with outstanding style. A unique afternoon tea experience is offered daily, combining traditional favourites with contemporary flavours. Evening brings a sophisticated hors d’oeuvres menu, along with a premium selection of aperitifs, spirits and champagne. A stunning fireplace and luxurious seating set the stage for personal comfort and people-watching."

    Hours
    Monday to Friday
    Afternoon tea 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
    Saturday and Sunday
    Afternoon Tea 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
    Menu

    http://www.fourseasons.com/newyorkfs/...

    5 Replies
    1. re: Tay

      The Palm Court and tea there does exist again! I've only been to the champagne bar at the Plaza since they reopened - wonderful service and the Palm Court looks beautiful - updated, but stunning. I saw food being eaten there that looked great, but obviously haven't tasted it. They have tea at two price levels - $65 and $100.

      Menu here:

      http://www.fairmont.com/NR/rdonlyres/...

      1. re: MMRuth

        Hi MMRuth,

        It's funny that I was just looking at the website of Plaza hotel to check out their afternoon tea services. Yes, tea at $65 and $100 - the latter sounds like I will have to give up a EMP dinner for an afternoon tea. Um....

        Anyway, I have heard that Nicole Kaplan(sp?), former pastry chef of Del Posto, is now working at the Palm Court. Do you know if it is true? I ardored her desserts when she was at Del Posto!

        MMRuth, if you are ever planning to do the $100 tea at Palm Court, give me a call. My mom said that "too much tea" for an afternoon ;D

        1. re: kobetobiko

          MMRuth/kobe
          If either of you have tea there, please post and share your experience.
          I only went once and it was a couple of years ago, but I loved it and I'd like to know how others feel about their presentation..

        2. re: MMRuth

          Wow, that's a lovely menu. Bordering on High Tea, really. I think there is a kind of nostalgia about Tea at the Plaza that makes it an attractive option for a gift. As far as the steep prices go, the total for three people would probably only come to slightly more than I spent on "floral sculptures" last year ;)
          Thanks for the link.

        3. re: Tay

          Thank you, Tay! I am going to have to do some digging around for any online images of TY. The menu looks nice, and not too over-the-top. Was the food good? Did you each get a pot of tea? I didn't see any prices, but that should be easy enough to find out.
          On the other hand, once I saw the menu for the Palm Court, I got rather excited. It looks like the Plaza tea service of your memory is back :)

        4. My g/friends and I are planning a special afternoon tea treat during our 10 day visit to NYC - we have heard great things about Lady Mendl's Tea Salon www.ladymendls.com

          13 Replies
          1. re: Lulu40

            Lulu
            It's nice enough, but sort of fussy.. Not really elegant.
            If the Palm Court is still doing tea, it's really a wonderful experience.
            MM Ruth, Thanks for the update,:-}
            Most of the upscale NYC hotels probably do tea. I also think I enjoyed tea at the St Regis, but I cannnot recall the details

            1. re: Tay

              I remember nice teas at both the Pierre and the St. Regis, but it's been so many years ago now, that I don't remember any details either!

              1. re: MMRuth

                It's too bad you can't remember the details, MM! I seem to recall hearing that these two had the best teas going as of a couple of years ago, and that the Plaza had kind of lost its luster... of course, now that it is newly re-opened, all bets are off. I am going to check out their websites and see how I like their menus.

                1. re: vvvindaloo

                  It really was at least ten years ago, or more. Re: the Plaza, all I can say is that the service I had at the champagne bar was exemplary, even cloth cocktail napkins, which I appreciated. Here's my report on that, if it helps at all:

                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/50376...

                  In terms of ambiance, again, I've only had cocktails at the Four Seasons, but it is a much more modern hotel ambiance - stunning - than the Plaza, which is updated but still has "old world" glamour.

              2. re: Tay

                Thanks Tay, I just had a conference call with the g/friends, we were set on Lady Mendl's however The Plaza is The Plaza making Palm Court very enticing. There are just too many wonderful choices and suffice to say we are now very much undecided???

                1. re: Lulu40

                  Lulu
                  Didin't mean to add any indicision to your outing! Lady Mendl's was very nice, and I'm sure you'd enjoy it but it was just not the, 'bowlwd over,' experience I was looking to enjoy. If I could choose one place, I'd have to say it would be The Palm Court. ;-] ...
                  OR maybe the 4 Seasons... OR possiblty the St Regis...
                  So little time...So much tea and.... :-}

                  1. re: Tay

                    Tay,
                    I left a message at the Palm Court requesting a reservation for the 10th. A couple of hours later, I got a call from them to let me know that they are not serving tea on that day due to their grand opening events for the hotel. I am really bummed because, of course, I had decided that tea just *had* to be at the Plaza. I can't do the Sunday (Mother's Day) of that weekend because the whole family will be going out on that day.
                    So... I did some research today, and am trying to choose between the 4 Seasons, the Ritz and the St. Regis. At the risk of sounding redundant, I would like to know which room you think is the prettiest among these, and which serves the best food (I don't want them to leave hungry, either, so if you could give me an idea about the amount of food and replenishment, I'd really appreciate it).
                    I feel kind of deflated, but I'm sure one of these other places will be nice, too...

                    Thanks again :)

                    1. re: vvvindaloo

                      Between the 4 Seasons and the St. Regis - based on the room, I'd choose the St. Regis. Where is the Ritz now? I am so sorry about the Plaza, I was keeping my fingers crossed that you'd be going there and we'd get the full scoop!

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        Thanks, MM. I have never been to the 4 Seasons, nor the Ritz (now on Central Pk. South). I have been in the lobby of the St. Regis, and I remember it as being very grand and elegant, but I have never really spent any time there.

                        EDIT: I just checked out Astor Court at the St. Regis, and it's gorgeous.

                        1. re: vvvindaloo

                          The Astor Court is absolutely wonderful. We felt like we stepped back in time and could picture Mrs. Astor sitting in the same room. Service was lovely too, very attentive. We basically felt like we were basking in luxury. The Four Seasons was not our cup of tea (no pun intended): the lobby seating really threw us off, and nearly everyone was on their cellphones for some reason. We thought it was terrific for people watching, but that's not what we went to tea for. Wherever you end up going, pls. report back!

                            1. re: vvvindaloo

                              VV
                              I'm baaaaack! :-}
                              I snuck off to Brigantine for a couple of days... I'm "renewed" :-}
                              I'd have to agree with my fellow 'hounds, RE: The Astor Court. It's an amazing looking room. You really do feel as though you've stepped into a different era. Here is a link to a couple of pic.\
                              I have a vague recollection of the savory plattter as not being outstanding, but I'm sorry, I couldn't give you specifics
                              .
                              For variety and quality of food, I'd have to go with the Four Seasons.The room is off the lobby. Beautiful high ceilings, fireplace, Very comfortable, high backed chairs.Their selections were superior..Lots of diferent teas from which to choose. And yes, you get your own pot. :-}.
                              The savory platter had all sorts of beautifully garnished tasty treats. My fav was a smoked chicken with raisins. Everything was fresh. The sweets included tarts, all sorts of cookies and litttle cakes. I really liked the little pecan 'tassie' style cookies. I'd say I'm more of a fan of the savory offerings.
                              I found the service at the four seasons to be...Pefect. Warm and friendly, yet still very professional.
                              As for the Ritz, I couldn't say...
                              Maybe it's just as well that you cannot have tea at the Plaza that particular weekend. I have a feeling Mother's Day is not the time to try any restaurant, even at the Plaza :-}
                              http://www.starwoodhotels.com/stregis...

              3. re: Lulu40

                Thank you, Lulu. I think Lady Mendl's looks lovely, and I have head good things, too. For some reason, I don't see my mom and aunt feeling too comfortable there. It looks like the perfect place to go with a group of girlfriends, though :) Have fun.

              4. Hey,

                I love Tea & Sympathy on Greenwich Avenue. Probably not the best place to go if you're looking for atmosphere -- it's tiny and can get quite cramped -- but it's a quaint little place with a lovely wait staff and great food. Afternoon tea for one is $30 and comes with a pot of tea, finger sandwiches, cakes, and delicious scones with clotted cream and jam. I highly recommend it!

                1 Reply
                1. re: vplowe

                  I like Tea & Sympathy, too. It's a nice place to spend an afternoon when they're not busy, which is quite rare, indeed! I think their food is good, and I have also had breakfast there. But it may be a little bit cramped for this occasion. Thank you for the suggestion, though.

                2. Hi vvvv. I don't know if you came across this in your search, but if not, here was a recent post about this topic:

                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/507375

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: gloriousfood

                    Thanks, gloriousfood. I wonder why I didn't come across it?

                  2. I haven't been in ages, but the Peninsula NY Hotel always did a really elegant afternoon tea.

                    Many recommend tea at the Carlyle.

                    My own favorite is the Harlem Tea Room. Reservations strongly recommended. Best-brewed cup of tea I've had in a long, long time.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: floretbroccoli

                      Thanks for reminding me about the Harlem Tea Room option. It looks like they add some "swank" to tea :)

                    2. The London bar at The London does a traditional afternoon tea.

                      http://www.thelondonnyc.com/gordon_ra...

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: gnomatic

                        That sounds promising. I'll have to check it out. Thanks!

                        1. re: vvvindaloo

                          vvv, pls. check out the link I posted above. I wrote about this place. Not good. Would not recommend.

                          As for the Harlem Tea Room, which I used to go often, it is probably the best bang for the buck (unless prices have changed, it was $20 pretip, pretax). But the service--oy! I've had a knife narrowly miss my lap as the server was rearranging the table, water spilled (cold, thank goodness)--when we were able to get water refills w/o asking for it over and over again, etc., etc. If you go and find things have improved, pls. report back!

                          1. re: vvvindaloo

                            I'd have to say I'd pass on The London