While New Yorkers can get pretty much anything they want, the one thing we don’t have is a royal family. And while we certainly get excited for a prince or princess to visit on occasion, there’s another way we can have a taste of British culture: high tea. The tradition dates back to the 1840s when Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, would get hungry before dinner. It has since morphed into a decadent afternoon meal filled with pastries, finger sandwiches and petit fours that New Yorkers are more than happy to indulge in. Here are the top spots to get afternoon tea at in the city.
Salvador Dali, a prominent Spanish artist, lived at The St. Regis New York along with his wife, Gala, and his pet ocelot, Babou. In honor of this history, Astor Court created a new afternoon tea inspired by the eccentric surrealist painter. Served on a ceramic paint palette, the abstract menu transforms Dali’s most famous paintings into edible art like the lobster and mango salad, inspired by Dali’s “Lobster Telephone “ and a cholate replica of Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory,” which comes with a milk-chocolate paint brush.
Bar Seine, described as one of Manhattan’s most romantic bars, transforms into a traditional afternoon tea service from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The three-course tea features a 10 Palais des Théas (freshly made finger sandwiches), including smoked salmon, fresh scones with jam and cream, and a selection of pastries. You get to enjoy the small bites surrounded by amber-colored Venetian plaster and leather-covered floors. It might be the sexiest tea in the city.
At the dazzling Baccarat Hotel in Midtown, there’s not one but four different tea presentations. Two are more traditional (Prince of Wales and King Louis XV); one is Middle Eastern/Turkish themed (Sultan Abdulaziz), and the other is with champagne and caviar and priced at $600 for two (Tsar Nicholas). All of the teas are also inspired by historical figures that have histories with the Baccarat crystal brand. And the hotel is adding one more to the roster by offering a special Mother's Day afternoon tea featuring a Fashion Prive (informal fashion showcase) and Pop-Up with St. John.
Hudson Yards promises to offer everything to New Yorkers, and they certainly deliver on their afternoon tea experience. True to its British roots, queensyard has an authentic English Afternoon Tea program offered daily from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Guests can enjoy beautiful tiered displays of sweet and savory menu items: from homemade scones with clotted cream, almond and beach Bakewell tarts and mini strawberry Victoria sponge cakes, to tea sandwiches with cucumber and dill, roast beef and horseradish, or crab and avocado. Sounds like another reason to visit the new neighborhood!
Afternoon tea at The Plaza is a time-honored tradition for many New Yorkers and travelers alike. Whether a little girl is channeling her inner Eloise, or family and friends celebrating a special life moment, the tea service is the perfect setting for a special occasion. What’s on the menu? Well, with the Champagne Tea, you’ll enjoy herb-roasted prime and caviar blini, with lemon and poppyseed cake and a mandarin orange chocolate éclair paired with a glass of bubbly. The New Yorker Tea features smoked salmon on pumpernickel and deviled egg salad, with maple cheesecake and a green apple, cinnamon macaron. Yum!
A spectacular setting and coveted menu make tea at The Pierre an unforgettable experience. Originally the Gentlemen’s Library when the hotel first opened in 1930, Two E retains its original molding details on ceiling and columns, balanced with a residential-style design evoking a chic Upper East Side residence. When it comes to the food, a full in-house pastry team bakes fresh scones and petit fours every morning to serve alongside house-made jam, clotted cream, and finger sandwiches. Additionally, the traditional tea menu features #PerfectlyPierre twists including spiced chicken tartlets, mini lobster rolls, and mini portobello, brie and red pepper wraps. Guests can also enjoy Tiffin & Tea, a nod to The Pierre’s Taj Hotel heritage, inspired by the British Raj ritual.
Photography by: Photography courtesy The St. Regis; The Baccarat Hotel;