An afternoon tea experience in a resplendent parlour floor of a NYC brownstone.
Autumn arrives in New York in dramatic fashion – the North American wind becomes an artist, swathing trees in lurid hues of reds, yellows, orange, and browns. Yet, autumn also brings the beginning of sunsets at 3 p.m or 4 p.m in the afternoon. To counter the latter depressing state of things, these Dessert Correspondents have found the perfect consolation in the tradition of afternoon tea. And, snuggled within a historic brownstone in Gramercy Park, Lady Mendl’s offers an afternoon tea experience resplendent in 19th century charm. Taking place on the parlour floor of a brownstone, Lady Mendl’s is split into two sections. We recommend requesting a table towards the front, so that you can enjoy the warm rays of afternoon sun glinting through the tall, draped windows. In a setting accessorized with sturdy oak furniture, tapestry-like wall paper, glistening light crystals, waterfalls of white linens on table tops, and mismatched floral porcelain dining ware, the ambience was appropriately hushed and refined.
On our visit, tea was limited to a handful of flavours, of which we selected lemon verbena and the fruity lychee red tea. However, one was given the opportunity to sample more than one tea during the course of the afternoon, which was very welcome. The food was overall, somewhat uninspired. The highlight was probably the first course, a crystal bowl of refreshing watermelon salad, which we understand, switches to a comforting butternut squash soup with the changing seasons. This was followed by a plate of forgettable ribbon cut sandwiches, of which the open-face option layered with slivers of butternut squash was the most delicious. Then, piping-hot scones served with pots of clotted cream and strawberry jam. Desserts included a creamy slice of Lady M’s signature multi-layered crepe cake, and a platter of dainty sweet bites (macarons, brownie bits, and chocolate-dipped strawberries).
Across the numerous afternoon teas that we have experienced over the years, MoMo & Coco believe that there are two broad categories that one can classify any afternoon tea: i) the afternoon tea that you visit for the traditional or historic vibes, and ii) the afternoon tea that you visit for a creative culinary affair. Lady Mendl’s falls within the first category. Visit this place for its time capsule of luxurious, last-century brownstone living, but do not have high expectations for the nibbles.
Dessert adventure checklist
- ☑ Dessert destination: Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon, 56 Irving Place, Gramercy Park, Manhattan, NYC.
- ☑ Budget: $$$ (USD $59 pp, plus tax/service).
- ☑ Sweet irresistibles: Afternoon Tea.
- ☑Must-eat: The watermelon salad.
- ☑The short and sweet story: An afternoon tea experience in a resplendent parlour floor of a New York City brownstone.