We know it sounds counterintuitive, but there’s absolutely nothing stuffy about sitting down for afternoon tea. In fact, we promise that even the squirmiest kids will settle down (and chow down) once they see the luxe three-tiered tray arrive at their table. Teeming with a mouth-watering array of tea sandwiches, scones, pastries and more, this will be a feast for the little ones. And since kids love taste-testing, we’re sure afternoon tea might just become more than a once-a-year treat. Read on as we tour of five sweet spots to take tea in town (with one bonus destination we had to include). You’ll never want to drink a lukewarm cup of Lipton again.
#1: The Russian Tea Room
As soon as you take a seat in this historic restaurant, founded in 1927 by members of the Russian Imperial Ballet, you’ll feel how old-world it is. And then there’s the food. You’ll be wowed by tea here ($50), which includes a caviar and blini starter, followed by a generous array of tea sandwiches and scones, cupcakes and petits fours. Your kid (12 and under only) will go bananas for the Children’s Tea ($35), which includes a carousel of tea sandwiches (like a miniature BLT and PB&J on blini), crisp apple slices with creamy caramel, a red velvet cupcake and, the finale, chocolate mousse topped with mixed berries.
150 West 57th Street (at Seventh Avenue)
#2: Lady Mendl’s
This may be seen as more of a place for ladies-who-tea, but Lady Mendl’s (in the Inn at Irving Place) is actually quite ready to host you and your family, provided your little one can manage to sit still for the 90-minute seating. Housed in what feels like your great aunt’s gorgeous brownstone (or a scene from Downton Abbey), tea at Lady Mendl’s means an afternoon spent amidst pinks and flowers, floral wallpaper and candles. Tea ($35 per person plus tax and 20 percent gratuity) includes cucumber sandwiches with mint crème fraiche on brioche, traditional scones, Lady Mendl’s Signature Cake and, if that isn’t enough, assorted cookies and chocolate-covered strawberries for dessert.
56 Irving Place (between 17th and 18th Streets)
#3: The Plaza
The crown jewel of tea spots, tea at the historic Plaza Hotel is a fave. Girls pack into this retreat from the hustle bustle of Midtown, dressed in the cutest of party dresses while little boys dress up in their best suits and ties—there’s just something ceremonial about tea here. The Classic Tea ($50) features sandwiches including a truly tasty roast beef and horseradish and smoked salmon and endive, not to mention some of the tastiest scones, served warm, in town. The New Yorker ($50) pays homage to the city’s finest, including black and white cookies, mini cannoli and chocolate cupcakes. But it’s the Eloise Tea ($30 for kids under 12) that’s a must-taste. We’re talking grilled cheese, organic PB&J mini sandwiches and a dessert of pink pink jello, Eloise shortbread and cold pink lemonade.
Fifth Avenue at Central Park South
#4: Alice’s Tea Cup
No tea in New York City story is complete without a trip to Alice’s. These whimsical tea salons, located in three Uptown locations, are as cozy as they are open, airy tributes to all things Alice in Wonderland. And, to say Alice’s is geared to kids is an understatement. Alice’s Wee Tea ($20) boasts a list of unique sandwiches, like homemade peanut butter and preserves on banana bread, herbal or fruit tea, scone with preserves and cream (every day the bakers here cook up some tasty treats as banana chocolate chip and, even vegan strawberry) and dark chocolate mousse. Order The Nibble and you’ll savor a pot of tea, a scone with preserves and cream, a choice of sandwich and assorted cookies ($25).
Chapter 1: 102 West 73rd Street (off Columbus Avenue)
Chapter 2: 156 E. 64th Street (off Lexington Avenue)
Chapter 3: 220 E. 81st Street (between Second and Third Avenues)
#5: The Carlyle
Take tea in The Gallery at this Upper East Side hotel and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped across the pond to enjoy a European tea. This sophisticated space is inspired by a Sultan’s dining room in Turkey and, while it’s known for its Madeline Tea in the Fall, don’t wait ‘til the leaves change to try the Afternoon tea ($48 per person) featuring a generous selection of tea sandwiches (the egg salad is divine), English Scones (served with Devonshire cream and strawberry preserves) and miniature pastries.
35 East 76th Street (at Madison Avenue)
Bonus: Bistro The Tea Set
It’s so nice to find a Greenwich Village restaurant that takes afternoon tea seriously. At this charming restaurant, filled with colorful pink pillows and cushioned benches, tea is served daily ($30) boasting some unusual teas, a decadent two-tiered tray stacked with mini-sandwiches, delicate pastries and tarts.
235 West 12th Street (at Greenwich Ave.)
Where do you and your kiddos like to grab tea for two in the city?
— Lambeth Hochwald