Where to Host a Tea Party
Host a traditional tea, or one with a downtown twist, at one of these New York locations
THE PLAZA HOTEL: THE PALM COURT Afternoon tea at the iconic Palm Court in The Plaza Hotel is truly an experience. The Food Network’s Geoffrey Zakarian, recently relaunched the afternoon tea menu with traditional fare mixed in with local favorites such as a mini bagel with lox and a schmear of cream cheese. The tea menu is extensive and you can also add champagne to the service to add to the festive occasion. If little ones are in attendance the Eloise tea is age-appropriate and can be served with a pink lemonade or hot cocoa in an Eloise china set of course. And it’s more than just the menu that attracts New Yorkers and tourists to this landmarked venue. The stained glass dome, and decorative seating arrangements ensure that the setting is just as elegant as the tea service. When drafting the guest list, keep in mind that tables are small, and seat no more than 6 to 8 at a table, so make it a very intimate list, or be prepared to assign seating across several tables.
BEAUTY & ESSEX: THE PEARL LOUNGE Looking for a location south of Houston? Beauty & Essex on the Lower East Side is a fun and funky setting that gives the traditional afternoon tea a downtown twist. Their Pearl Lounge, named for the ornate ceiling made of hand-strewn pearls, is an extravagant backdrop for a bridal shower tea party. Bridesmaids can reserve the Lounge for parties up to 65, or the full floor if the guest list rivals the wedding’s. Chef Chris Santos offers a multi-ethnic menu of lobster tacos, hot and sweet marinated tomatoes on toast, and traditional scones. We suggest the warm lemon blueberry ones. For drinks, serve up Earl the Pearl, their drink of choice for a tea party toast. But for something a little more bubbly, the in-house mixologist will whip up a custom cocktail based on the bride’s name. Assigned seating can be difficult with banquette and cocktail-style tables, but it makes for great mingling.
INN AT IRVING PLACE: LADY MENDL’S While part of the Inn at Irving Place, Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon, has an old-world feeling that you’re in a Victorian home. (Cue the Downton soundtrack.) Decorated and set with mix-and match tables and chairs, including a few love seats, and surrounded by century-old fireplaces and moldings, Lady Mendl’s may not be as posh as some of the hotel’s on the Upper East Side, but it offers guests quite an elegant and enjoyable service. Showers can be booked in a private room, or a section of the main dining rooms. The tea service has five courses and includes a seasonal amuse bouche, traditional tea sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and preserves, Lady Mendl’s Signature Cake—over seven layers of heaven—and cookies served with chocolate-covered strawberries. There is a minimum guarantee required when you sign the contract so make sure you know your guest list ahead of time and book accordingly.