An ode to Christmas, and cake creativity, just across from Central Park.
Your Dessert Correspondents frequently receive questions from friends and family alike as to when is the best time of the year to visit NYC. Without hesitation, we would say autumn, nothing beats the rainbow of reds, browns and yellows! However, having grown up knowing Christmas as a time of summer beach trips, poolside fun or roasting meats on the BBQ, visiting NYC during a wintry, Northern Hemisphere Christmas comes a near-second recommendation. Can you picture yourself sipping mulled wine or hot chocolate, and nibbling on sugared ginger cookies while watching festive lights twinkle through flakes of snow? It truly makes for a serendipitous New York moment.
We have recently been on a high-tea run (see our recent reviews here), and when we heard of a new venue with an English heritage and offering a Christmas-themed high tea, we jumped to the occasion. Bluebird is a new restaurant situated inside the Columbus Circle shopping complex, which coincidentally is across from both Central Park and the Columbus Circle Christmas Market! On our visit, afternoon tea at Bluebird was served in the traditional three-tiered manner. On the lower plate, there were four types of sandwiches: one of curried chicken, apricot and apple (our favourite), another layered with smoked salmon and lemon butter, and one each of an egg and cucumber variety. Served warm, the scones were a little overly crumbly in texture and a smidgen smaller than we prefer. They were accompanied by proper clotted cream (yes, New York, no whipped cream!) and strawberry jam. As we visited in December, the sweet irresistibles were an ode to Christmas joy. Although the profiterole pastry tasted dry and somewhat sadly stale, its swirl of chocolate cream embedded with candy cane peppermint was a delight. Also on the upper platter was a very softly rose-scented, pistachio-covered square of Turkish Delight, and a very dense orb of Christmas Pudding that would have been almost perfect had it been served with warm custard, rather than glazed icing. The chestnut tart and gingerbread man cookie were our favourite bites.
After partaking in several afternoon teas in New York over the last year or two, these Dessert Correspondents were about to tentatively conclude that afternoon tea simply, isn’t a New York forte. Bluebird however, has given us a ray of hope. Bluebird’s interpretation was not the bountiful sweet buffets found in Asia, nor was it as evocative as that in Australia, nor as creative as in London, but it comes with our recommendation nonetheless. The restaurant itself is a rarity of space, suffused with a trendy-yet-elegant vibe, and you won’t be brushing elbows or kneecaps with your fellow diners. And the afternoon tea itself is many steps up in terms of creativity than that offered at other older New York establishments. In short, we will certainly keep an eye out for future theme-based afternoon teas at Bluebird.
Dessert adventure checklist
- ☑ Dessert destination: Bluebird London, 10 Columbus Circle, Manhattan.
- ☑ Budget: $$-$$$ (USD $45 pp, plus tax/service).
- ☑ Sweet irresistibles: Afternoon Tea.
- ☑ Must-eat: The themed-based sweet irresistibles.
- ☑ The short and sweet story: An ode to Christmas, and cake creativity, just across from Central Park.