Karen Moline tries the best $20-$40 afternoon tea rooms in New York. Crumpets optional.

The Best Afternoon Tea in New York Tea and SympathyIf you want to horrify anyone from the UK or Australia, just take them to a diner and tell them to order a cuppa. What they will get is a cup of hot water and a limp, unwrapped teabag on the side. Yanks just don’t get tea, unless it’s iced and full of sugar from Starbucks.

If you know where to look, however, you can rectify this horror at one of the scrumptious parlors where high tea is served. Because there are so many courses, and because the servers are so unstintingly polite, I’ve found that even the most obstreperous kiddies will be on their best behavior during their tea party. Or maybe just lulled into complacence by a sugar high.

 

LADY MENDL’S TEA SALON

Tucked in the back of a gorgeous Gramercy Park brownstone, which also houses the elegant (and very pricey) Inn at Irving Plaza, Lady Mendl’s serves a Five Course Royal Tea Service which is a girlie-girl’s dream come true. And not too shabby for boys either, as my son loved it, especially the first course of a mini sweet potato quiche (and this is not a kid who likes his veggies), followed by tea sandwiches, scones with proper clotted cream, their specialty many-layered cream cake, and then chocolate-covered strawberries and cookies. The signature teas aren’t bad either. $40 per person for Royal Tea Service.

56 Irving Place

NY, NY 10003

212-533-4466

 

ALICE’S TEA CUP

Even more girlie-girl is the famous Alice’s, which is so beloved of tourists that I recommend you go at odd hours so you won’t be rushed through your meal. That said, the Alice in Wonderland theme is adorable and their selection of teas mind-boggling. The raspberry jam that comes with the scones makes you want to lick the bowl. They also serve regular meals to dampen down the sugar high. $20 for The Wee Tea for kids; $25 for The Nibble; $37 for The Mad Hatter (double the scones and sandwiches); $60 for The Jabberwocky (unlimited scones, sandwiches, and cookies).

156 E. 64th St.

NY, NY 10021

212-486-9200

Or

102 W. 73rd St.

NY, NY 10023

212-799-3006

 

TEA & SYMPATHY

Much more macho Brit is the West Village’s Tea & Sympathy, beloved of homesick expatriates who need a fix of proper Heinz baked beans. It’s like a gentrified New Yorker version of a pub, with excellent food, a cozy atmosphere, and a very long wait for a table (they don’t take reservations, so please do yourself a favor and don’t show up with starving kids or you might end up at McDonald’s instead). At the Afternoon tea you get nine finger sandwiches, two scones with clotted cream and jam, two cakes, and tea. If you prefer something savory, go for the Welsh Rarebit, bangers and mash, tweed pie, or Irish bacon. $30 per person for Afternoon tea.

108 Greenwich Ave. http://teaandsympathynewyork.com/

NY, NY 10011

212-807-8329

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