Afternoon Tea at The Ritz-Carlton New York

Saturday afternoon. Strolling along the south side of Central Park.

Time for a a break. Walk across the street. Settle into a two-top with April. Afternoon tea in The Star Lounge at The Ritz-Carlton. A menu just for tea time, love it.

Sore throats healed with a selection of teas by “T” Tea Company (the January 2012 issue of Fresh Cup Magazine has a great article about “T”, a must-read if you’re interested in the tea/hotel industry). I went with the BC Forestea while April had the house Chai, creamy and served complete with milk and sugar. I wound up alternating between both drinks throughout the afternoon tea service. It’s all about balance. Gorgeous teapots to match the teacups. If you come for regular lunch service, tea is served in these rather chic teapots.

Starting with sandwiches. Instead of presenting all courses (savory, scones, sweets) on a single three-tier tray, the Ritz presents each course separately with mini-tiers.

Bottom: Smoked chicken with dried apricot on whole wheat, Egg salad and pear tomato on pan de mie
Middle: Cheddar pepper scone with endive and caramelized onion, Half poached shrimp with capers cream cheese on pumpernickel
Top: Smoked salmon with cream cheese and caviar on pumpernickel

And in place of mini scones (like the ones served at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman), we each received one large “Sugar-Raisin” scone, just warm out of the oven with a crackly, browned sugar top. Our waiter declared it the best scone in all of NYC…and while that might be an exaggeration, it surely was an excellent scone down to the plump golden and and purple raisins studded throughout the pastry. A bit messy to eat (which is why most tea places serve mini-scones)…

…but nothing that couldn’t be resolved with little pots of devonshire cream alongside strawberry and blueberry jam. I could eat devonshire cream by the spoonful and one day I’ll have to learn how to make my own.

A little breather and change of plates before petit fours make way to our table.

Bottom: Chocolate Tart, Financier, and Opera Cake
Middle: Cream Puffs, Pumpkin Tart (the tart filling changes seasonally)
Top: Almond Sponge Cake, Red Velvet Cake

A three-hour affair, afternoon tea is rarely “just” a snack. Food and conversation go hand in hand. I’m a big advocate of afternoon tea in small groups (never more than three people). Otherwise it just becomes a chaotic group meal, and the thing that makes afternoon tea so satisfying – the peace and quality conversation, is lost. The sun was gone when we left The Ritz, I’d say it was a mighty good Saturday.

The Ritz-Carlton, New York
50 Central Park South
New York, New York 10019
(212) 308-9100

  • anonymous
    February 1, 2012

    Hi Kathy,I've been following your beautiful blog, and have a rather silly question. I very much like the idea of afternoon teas, but I'm the type that gets full really quickly. Is it considered tacky to wrap up what you can't finish at a tea? Also, it really does seem more like a meal to me! But I LOVE the idea.

  • anonymous
    February 18, 2013

    I have a question about the price. Is $60/person or for the whole set. I'm so excited to go there.

  • Kathy YL Chan
    February 18, 2013

    Hi Roseanne – thanks so much for the kind words :) I understand what you mean – I rarely finish everything on the tea platter (esp when it comes to the sweets). It's definitely ok to wrap what you didn't finish…after all, you paid for it :)Anon – it's $60/person…the photos I have in the post shows an afternoon tea set for two people :)

  • anonymous
    January 26, 2015

    Hi Kathy, I love your blog, I want to treat my mother to afternoon tea in new york, she is flying over from ireland for a visit and I can’t decide between the mandarin oriental or the ritz carlton, out of the two which would be your favourite? Or any favourite place from your list you have!
    Thank you

  • Christina
    February 28, 2015

    Love your blog! My sister and I are taking a trip to nyc in June and we are looking forward to afternoon tea at the Ritz. How far in advance should we make reservations?

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