Sunday, February 28, 2010

Afternoon Tea at the Carlyle Hotel, New York, NY

What an experience! I had been wanting to do a fancy hotel tea for a while right here in Manhattan, and my dream finally came true. I had been planning to take tea with my friend Hailey for a while, and we had set the date for tea at The Gallery at NYC's beautiful and elegant hotel Carlyle. I invited friends Kiley and Sarah along for the decadent afternoon and they were certainly happy they arrived.

To begin, the room itself is a masterpiece. From the tea booklet awaiting us at the table:

"Exotic, elegant d├ęcor by legendary decorator Renzo Mongiardino sets the stage for a private retreat favored by the rich, the famous and the beautiful since the hotel's inception. Inspired by the sultan's dining room at the Topikapi Palace in Turkey, The Gallery is divided into two tiers.

The upper gallery is wrapped in deep red, hand-painted wallpaper. Banquettes made of antique kilims and red-fringed velvet chairs invite lingering. The lower gallery features an intricate blue-and-gold wallpaper, inset with intaglio-like views of such landmarks as Venice's Church of the Saulte and Istanbul's Hagia Sophia."

Pillows lined the couches and beautiful white, crisp linen with set tea cups awaited. We each indulged in a full afternoon tea. Although the tea listing was not extensive, it was certainly a fine choice. I went with a classic, English Breakfast, which couldn't have been better. The girls all indulged in Earl Grey Supreme.

After not too long of a wait at all, the beautiful china plates on three tiered servers arrived. The first tier held the sandwiches, which is where I will begin. They were all fantastic! Larger than your average finger sandwich, but more to enjoy that way. I enjoyed ham, turkey and watercress, cucumber and cream cheese, spiced egg salad, and smoked salmon and cream cheese bites. The crusts were perfectly cut off and everything was going to my liking. Not to mention that the English Breakfast was pairing perfectly with each sandwich.

The second tier held the scones, of course. Accompanied by strawberry jam, orange marmalade, and real devonshire clotted cream imported from England, there was a raisin and plain scone for each of us. I've certainly had better scones, but there was nothing wrong with the Carlyle's scones and I so admired the freshness of the preserves and clotted cream.

At this point, I needed a refill on my pot, which came out promptly. A bit of relaxing period on the comfy couch before the sweets ensued as well. After some lovely chat with my good friends (and a quick interaction with the table next to us-everyone was so friendly that afternoon) we tucked into the sweets tier.

My favorite sweet was the dark chocolate torte with gold shaving on top. I also loved the espresso creme cakelet. The other sweets offered were apricot-pistachio tarts, banana chocolate meringue, and mini apple tartlets. They were all spectacular.

In total, we spent three hours enjoying tea and conversation, but it felt like no time at all! We were all so relaxed and enjoyed our time thoroughly. For the ultimate tea experience, the Carlyle is certainly it! The service was terrific and they certainly adhered to all of the afternoon tea guidelines. I recommend the Carlyle wholeheartedly.

After we had paid, we retired to Bemelman's bar, right across from the Gallery for another three hours (how time flew!) where we enjoyed more great service at the Carlyle, sipping Martinis and eating cheese crisps. The pianist was terrific!

The room is lit very dimly, so unfortunately my pictures aren't the best, but I hope you can still enjoy! Thanks so much for reading!

-The Tea Gastronomer