The quintessential uptown afternoon tea.
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, and certainly by winter, both herald 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. Afternoon tea at the Lowell takes place in a small, rather cosy, dimly-lit, European-inspired salonesque room on the second floor of the hotel. In fact, you don’t feel like you are in a hotel, at all. Accessorized with quaint tabletop mini-lamps, heavily-draped windows complete with full valances and swags, monochrome upholstered chairs and dramatic floral centrepieces, the candlelit space of the Pembroke Room evokes a rather hushed, rather very, very proper atmosphere for afternoon tea.
On our visit, the tea selection was moderate in length, with multiple varieties of black, green and herbal teas. No white teas, though, which are our preferred beverage of choice. Afternoon tea arrived presented in a striking monochrome three-tier set-up, with sandwiches at the bottom and sweet irresistibles situated on the two uppermost decks. The sandwiches numbered five, and although a mix of closed sandwiches, open-faced and rolls, were traditional in nature: cucumber, lobster roll, devilled egg, smoked salmon and caviar, and turkey. Probably the closest to traditional English scones that we have had in New York, the scones at the Lowell were served piping warm, soft and puffy with the just-right degree of crumble, accompanied with lemon curd, fruit preserves, and Devonshire cream. Second rounds were offered. Comprising macarons, eclairs, and tartlets of passionfruit, lemon strawberry and also, chocolate, the sweet irresistibles leaned towards ordinary and classical, rather than creative.
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. As with the other afternoon teas that we have so far had the opportunity to partake in New York, we have yet to find an innovative afternoon tea. In any case, the Lowell’s interpretation of the tradition is our favourite classical uptown experience thus far.
Dessert adventure checklist
- ☑ Dessert destination:Pembroke Room at the Lowell Hotel, 28 East and 63rd Street, Upper East Side, Manhattan, NYC.
- ☑ Budget: $$$ (USD $63 pp, plus tax/service).
- ☑ Sweet irresistibles: Afternoon Tea.
- ☑ Must-eat: The strawberry and passionfruit tartlets.
- ☑The short and sweet story: The quintessential uptown afternoon tea.