Afternoon Tea in Manhattan
by Ellen Easton
Autumn in New York, as the temperatures begin to drop, invites one to spend a leisurely afternoon with a good friend catching up over a hot pot of tea while indulging in delicious treats.
I am often asked what is the best place for afternoon tea in Manhattan? There is no definitive answer as to what is the best, as each is as different as there are personal opinions. Whether one wishes to make it a special occasion with dress clothes or a casual get together will dictate the ultimate choice of location.
One of the greatest challenges in recommending an afternoon tea venue is the consistency of service and menus due to the high turnover in staff. Another being the cost. Keep in mind the costs will vary from very expensive to reasonable. So, with that caveat, I will share with you the five current places I personally enjoy patronizing. Embrace the diversity that each has to offer and a good time will be had by all. Reservations are recommended. Dress codes range from Dressy-Chic to Smart Casual.
HOTEL: The Pierre Hotel’s Two E Lounge
A traditional English tea menu, as well as an India inspired Tiffin tea menu.
“In the British Raj, where the British custom of afternoon tea was supplanted by the local Indian practice of taking a light meal at that hour, it came to be called tiffin. It is derived from English colloquial or slang tiffing meaning to take a little drink, and had by 1867 become naturalized among Anglo-Indians in the north of British India to mean luncheon.” The tea menu.
2 East 61st Street; Thepierreny.com (212) 940-8113
TEA ROOM: Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon
Nestled away in the heart of a Gramercy Park brownstone, Lady Mendl’s is a whimsical and quiet oasis for afternoon tea; known for their twenty-layer crepe cake. Note the full loose-leaf teas are served decanted banquet style, not in individual teapots. Charming private rooms are available for parties. 56 Irving Place, Ladymendlsteasalon.com or (212) 533-4600
DEPARTMENT STORE: Bergdorf Goodman’s BG, 7th Floor.
The storied Grand Dame of fashion serves an afternoon tea in an elegant celadon room set overlooking Central Park. A fun spot to“see” and to be seen. Private Room available for parties. Get the details.
754 Fifth Avenue at 57th Street, 7th Floor. (212) 872-8977 or opentable.com
MUSEUM: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, THE MET DINING ROOM
The new Afternoon Tea at The Met Dining Room is beautiful. A spacious room with large picture windows and many tables overlooking Central Park sets the tone for a relaxing, absolutely delicious and affordable afternoon tea on the Upper East Side’s museum mile. Very fairly priced for a successful program at $30 per person. Get the details.
1000 Fifth Avenue at 81st Street. 4th Floor Dining Room, (212) 570-3975 or Open Table
PASTRY SHOP: Ladurée Soho Salon de Thé
A magical setting as if one were in Paris. Perfect for à la carte pastries, macaroons and a pot of tea. 398 West Broadway. https://www.laduree.us/ (646) 392-7868
Ellen Easton ©All Rights Reserved; ©Photos by Venues; ©Photo by Laduree
Ellen Easton, author of Afternoon Tea~Tips, Terms and Traditions (RED WAGON PRESS), an afternoon tea authority, lifestyle and etiquette industry leader, keynote speaker and product spokesperson, is a hospitality, design, and retail consultant whose clients have included the Waldorf=Astoria, the Plaza and Bergdorf Goodman. Easton’s family traces their tea roots to the early 1800s, when ancestors first introduced tea plants from India and China