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: