For me, high tea is all about a more elegant time when ladies could dress up to enjoy a few pastries, a lovely cup of tea and do it all with delicate china. It’s about the history and enjoying a period in time I can hope to recreate but never truly experience.
We’ve all heard about or seen New York’s The Plaza in movies or tv shows. You know the New York landmark where Monica and Chandler got married, or the hotel from Home Alone 2 spectacularly overlooking Central Park. Well when I found out they offered a particularly lovely high tea and I could go in and actually eat there while we were on holiday, well a booking was made immediately.
The original plan was to go with a girlfriend who was living in New York, but plans changed and she moved back to Oz. My gorgeous hubby courageously stepped into the void. I suspect he may have been a little frightened by the fanciness, the delicate crockery and the price tag. So my catchcry became, but it’s The Plaza. If you haven’t yet worked out from reading my blog and this post, I like a little fancy in my life.
On our first foray into Central Park on day four in New York City, I spied The Plaza. Hopping excitedly from side to side and pointing I said, ‘Look hon, it’s The Plaza, you know, where we’re going for high tea later in the week’. Hubby’s reply, ‘hmm’. My thoughts were: rightio, he’s not quite as excited as me, but he still has three days to get excited.
The day of high tea at The Plaza arrived. After some further exploration around Central Park and a visit to Bloomingdales we were ready for our 3pm booking. Hubby was still not quite as excited as me, but he would be once he was inside. We stopped to take a few photos from the outside and then we were walking up the magnificent carpeted steps. We were in! Hopefully we could pass for fabulous New Yorkers.
Ok, we were early which meant we had time to take a stroll around. And it is everything it looks like in the movies and more. Beautiful chandeliers, piano music floating through the air, exclusive shops and The Plaza teddy bear. Who could resist a photo?
At 3pm we made our way to The Palm Court where we were seated and offered the menu. As I said before I’ve had a few high teas and knew what to expect. For my hubby, this was a first. He leaned across and whispered to me, ‘the last time I had afternoon tea I was sitting on an esky with a couple of guys from work’. My response, ‘well honey, this will be a little different’.
We ordered a high tea each: for me, the Chocolate Tea and my hubby, the New Yorker. Here’s what we had.
The Chocolate Tea
Strawberries, pound cake, pretzels, house-made marshmallows, golden pineapple
Freshly-baked, warm seasonal scones, nutella, double Devonshire cream, lemon curd and preserves
Chocolate profiteroles, mini pot de crème, chocolate cupcake, chocolate macaroon, sacher torte, chocolate truffles
The New Yorker
Sandwiches and savouries
Cucumber, radish, green herbs
Smoked salmon, endive
Roquefort, shaved red grapes, watercress
Prosciutto, mozzarella, pesto
Roast beef, horseradish
Freshly-baked, warm seasonal scones, double Devonshire cream, lemon curd and preserves
Pastries and sweets
Black and white cookies, mini canoli, chocolate cupcake, New York cheesecake, lemon tea cake, profiteroles.
Served with our choice of tea
We made our way through the three tiers of chocolate, savouries, scones and pastries accompanied by quite a few cups of tea sweetened with a few lumps of sugar (one of the things I love about high tea – lumps of sugar – so very English).
One of my gorgeous girlfriends who had been to The Plaza previously warned me about the amount of food and to definitely have any leftovers boxed up to go. So we did, together with a bag bearing The Plaza crest. And yes, that bag made its way into my luggage and safely back home with me. It’s a keeper.
Our final take on high tea at The Plaza is that it’s a must do for anyone who loves elegance, old world glamour, romance and the experience of eating in the Palm Court. Food wise, it was really lovely, but the QVB in Sydney was definitely on par. One thing I do love about the QVB is the beautiful floral Royal Doulton crockery – it feels like you have a piece of history in your hands each time you take a sip of tea. The Plaza offers plain white which while very classy, is just a little plain for my liking.
If you’re ever in New York, take a few hours to enjoy high tea at The Plaza, you won’t regret it. And for my hubby, it was definitely a step up from afternoon tea on an esky with a bunch of workmates.