Tea surcharges and glacial service detract from an English Cottage garden teatime in midtown manhattan.
Midtown Manhattan is an enigma. For tourists and newly-arrived would-be New Yorkers, nothing compares to the pandemonium and neon lights of Time Square, and the litany of historic old-school restaurants, bars and other venues that abound. Yet for those who have lived here for a while, many treat Midtown as one would Chernobyl. Stay far, far away. For these Dessert Correspondents, we venture for the occasional 5th Avenue shopping, the melodies of Broadway and also when we want to escape sometimes over-hyped eateries in downtown Manhattan, to find solace in the usually quieter environs of a fancy uptown hotel. Bedecked in tapestry-upholstered, cottage-chic furniture, the Orangery at the Whitby evokes an English garden in the middle of bustling Manhattan. We recommend afternoon tea here, rather than at the more rowdy, adjacent bar area which overlooks the street.
On our visit, afternoon tea was served in the traditional three-tier manner, on very pretty sets of fine English Wedgwood porcelain. There were two types of black teas that were included in the prix fixe price – English Breakfast and Earl Grey. Other teas were available at a surcharge, a most unfortunate practice that these Dessert Correspondents have not come across before in any of our high tea adventures around the world. From this supplementary tea menu, we selected the “Mythical Creatures” tea (a blend of oolong, sunflower blossoms, and green mango) and the “Jasmine Silver Tip” (a white tea variety).
Savouries and sweet irresistibles numbered four bites a piece. The sandwich set included a turkey ribbon sandwich layered with cranberry, and classical sandwiches of egg salad, cool cucumber, and smoked salmon, respectively. The scones were crumbly nuggets (we prefer the more fluffy variety), and they were most unfortunately, served cold. Following a garden theme, the sweets consisted of a rather dry vanilla cupcake embellished with a buttercream dahlia, a rose-flavoured choux puff (our favourite nibble), a chocolate mousse tart decorated with sugar fondant flowers and marshmallow bites, and a brittle pistachio macaron.
If one could overlook the tea surcharge, the glacial service, and the just-average food offerings, the Whitby could have been a preposition for teatime in a trendy yet intimate, garden-like setting away from bustling Midtown Manhattan.
Dessert adventure checklist
- ☑ Dessert destination: The Orangery at the Whitby Hotel, 18 West, 56th Street, Manhattan, NYC.
- ☑ Budget: $$$ (USD $50 pp, plus tax/service).
- ☑ Sweet irresistibles: Afternoon Tea.
- ☑ Must-eat: The rose profiterole.
- ☑ The short and sweet story: Tea surcharges and glacial service detract from an English cottage garden teatime in Midtown Manhattan.