The experience of taking tea inside a jewellery box.
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, and stay f-a-r away. For these Dessert Correspondents, we venture for the occasional 5th Avenue shopping, the melodies of Broadway and also when we want to escape over-hyped places in downtown Manhattan, to find solace in the (usually quieter) old-school establishments in Midtown, and their associated high tea offerings. Two years ago, the flagship Tiffany store on 5th Avenue started to offer both breakfast and high tea. It is taken at a cozy (read: small) corner on the fourth floor, a corner called the “Blue Box Cafe.” And it is certainly, blue. Blue everywhere punctuated with white here and there, from the chairs to the table, ceiling walls and even the coasters. The dining crowd is an eclectic mix of formally dressed and casually dressed patrons, of locals and visitors.
Afternoon tea at Tiffany’s is served as a three-tier affairs, with scones on the bottom tier (instead of the traditional middle tier), followed by a platter of savouries, then sweet at the topmost layer. Six “Bellocq” tea are available, of which we selected the white tea variety (white tea being our afternoon tea beverage of choice). Called the “White Wedding” here, it was a “blend of Chinese white peony and jasmine teas, lavender, rose petal and orange blossoms.” There were also three black teas, one green tea and a lemon/verbena variety for the picking.
The finger sandwiches numbered five: a tower of diced chicken on a circlet of bread, smoked salmon and cream cheese on a rectangle of rye, cucumber goat cheese in a sandwich along an asparagus romesco triangle.
There were two scones, one sweet and one savoury for a different touch. We laced the cheddar scone with honey, and the other was a white chocolate raisin one. Condiment accompaniments were soury cherry, cranberry jam, clotted cream and honey.
The six sweet irresistibles were: a lemon jelly pate de fruit, a brick of very rich dark chocolate (we recommend this as the last bite, due to its intensity), a little cake cube covered in a blue glaze, a raspberry tart, key lime part and a nest of sweet pastry (akin to kataifi) flecked with gold dust, glitter and two tiny blue chocolate eggs.
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. With its bijoux sweets and its location, High tea at Tiffany’s quite literally, feels like tea in a jewellery box within a larger jewellery box. We have never watched Audrey Hepburn’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” and don’t know anything about it except that it spurned the term “LBD” and made the store a globally recognized name and coveted status symbol so many decades later. In any case, we would choose high tea at Tiffany’s rather than breakfast at Tiffany’s any day.
Dessert adventure checklist
- ☑ Dessert destination: Tiffany’s, 727 5th Avenue, Midtown East, Manhattan 10022.
- ☑ Budget:$$$-$$$$ ($52pp, plus tip/tax,).
- ☑ Sweet irresistibles: High Tea.
- ☑ Must-eat: The nest pastry.
- ☑ The short and sweet story: The experience of taking tea inside a jewellery box.