16 October 2012

Tea Gallery: Let's Have Tea

Bronze sculptures of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass.  By Pepsy M. Kettavong.  It's in Rochester, New York.  I didn't see it when I was there, but it seems these two weren't taking tea in this square yet.  I could have done with a cup myself when I visited Rochester.  

10 October 2012

Adventures in Grouponing: Kings' Carriage House

These days in New York, there is no shortage of tea rooms.  We're utterly spoiled, so if one place doesn't float your boat you can just go to another.  But I remember a time, not too long ago, when you had to make a bit of an effort to find a decent place for a nice cuppa, not to mention a good afternoon tea.  (Picture the rest of this paragraph told by me on a rocking chair, even if I'm only referring to the 90s.)  There were limited sources of information, for one thing.  It was mostly word of mouth, and not enough mouths had a taste for tea.  There was the Internet, but it wasn't exactly brimming with guides and blogs yet.  The City had hotels with afternoon tea, and that was about it.  I was pleasantly surprised with Tea and Sympathy, and I'd heard of Lady Mendl's - still haven't been there!  The only other place I'd heard about was Kings' Carriage House. I meant to go there, but I never managed to - having a small daily time window for tea doesn't help when you normally have a full-time work schedule.  Also, when I didn't have a full-time job, I was usually too broke for a place like this.  

Enter the world of online coupons.  It's been hit and miss for me, so in the long run I can't say I"m a big advocate of them.  Still, if it's tea-related, I'm probably going to fall for it.  You'd think they'd target me even more aggressively (do you hear me Lady Mendl?), but I should be glad I've only had a few opportunities.  When I found a 2-for-1 for Kings': well, I was sold.

Thankfully, my experience was generally a positive one.  The service, both in making reservations and while in the restaurant, was as friendly as I like - not gushy but not snooty.  As usual, I waited till the last minute, so weekends were out, but they were accommodating and I got a reservation for 5:30 PM on a weekday.  

'Carriage House' sounds old-fashioned from the get-go, and it was charmingly so.  It's located in a brownstone, which is one of my favorite kinds of building.  In the entrance room, there's an old secretary's table, and it just felt like home.  I never went upstairs (lazy) but my tea companion Cindy looked up there and was suitably impressed. We were seated downstairs, near the 'garden' - I call it that because it reminds me of the little garden area in the homes in Bath where Jane Austen lived.  I don't think she had deer heads decorating her dining room, but who knows?  I tend to be squeamish about animal bits as decoration, but as I used to work in an office that had a massive moose head above the filing cabinets, it doesn't take away my appetite.

So, the food: elegant finger foods, lovely scones (with butter, not clotted cream, but that's okay,) and a tasty variety of little cakes and tarts.  They even served chocolate-covered strawberries on the side - oh yes!  The tea was bagged, which I don't usually approve of, but I had mint tea since it was the evening.  It was served in teapots - mostly Sadler like Tea and Sympathy.  Definitely good food.  Of course, the price was right - if I'd have paid full price I'd probably say the portions weren't quite filling enough.  It wasn't tiny like Radiance, but kind of like its neighbor just west of them - the Met's afternoon tea.  

So it's a favorable review, though I'm not sure I'll be running back there anytime soon.  It's also a restaurant, which I'd be curious to try as well.  And I wouldn't be afraid to take men there, which I can't say for every tea spot.

Here's the snaps: