28 July 2010

The Crosby Show

We may still be trapped in the sticky, endless days of July, but that doesn't mean you can spend every single one on the beach.

Well, you can try. But the city inevitably calls me back. As much as I do love a thermos of mint iced tea (and my toes) wedged in the sand, sometimes it's nice to settle into a plush chair as pots of tea and a tower of sandwiches and cakes are brought out to you, silverware cool to the touch from the air conditioning.

A glass of champagne alongside doesn't hurt, either.

For an afternoon tea a bit less traditional, the new Crosby Street Hotel (79 Crosby St.) seemed a good choice. And overall, it was: the tea list is fairly extensive, and while the food is not very adventurous, it is well-prepared. I particularly appreciated the whole-wheat bread in the finger sandwiches; it's unusual to see anything but soft white bread at tea services, and it played nicely with the cool filling of creme fraiche and cucumber.

The scones were excellent: just sweet and firm enough to stand up to multiple slatherings of clotted cream and cherry jam. I can't recall ever eating them while listening to Chaz Jankel, either, which added another layer of delight.

But there were a few things off. While the service was very professional and attentive- when the waiter was around- long, long stretches passed without any sign of him. It's never pleasant to be hovered over, but an occasional check-in is appreciated. Less forgivable was the preparation of the tea. I truly cannot understand why a high-end establishment (and a British-owned one at that) would bring the tea to the table with the leaves still in the pot. I could time it so the first cup of Darjeeling was perfect; but the leaves had no place to go after that, so the next few cups were sadly overbrewed.

It's not difficult to brew tea, especially in a professional kitchen. There's got to be a timer and strainer in there somewhere. And this problem isn't limited to Crosby Street- unfortunately, I've ended up with the same bitter brew at almost every other hotel tea service.

Sigh. Will they ever learn?

The Crosby Street Hotel serves afternoon tea, $34; or champagne tea, $46, all day.


the coolbirth kid said...

i am a long time tea afficianado.
have you ever been to lady mendl's,
at the inn at irving place?
it's supposed to have a very fine high tea,
and i've been thinking of treating a friend.
if so,
please tell me what you thought;
if not,
please go and tell me what you think...
place it on a list for future consideration.

the coolbirth kid said...

apologies are in order:
i just saw your lady mendl post from 2008...
i will review,
and then garner an answer from that.
forgive me for my lack of observation,

ana dane said...

lady mendl's is lovely for afternoon tea- it's a bit more of a singular experience than most hotel teas, because everyone is there solely to drink tea (or pretending to, at least). the tea is brewed properly, and the food is nice, but it's really more about the space and feeling that you've stepped into a new york city of 1910.

the coolbirth kid said...

it sounds quite nearly perfect!
glad to hear it's brewed properly,
and hope the tea leaves are loose;
i feel high tea ($30+) warrants it as well.
i've visited the space briefly,
and fell a little bit in love;
and i rather enjoy the idea of a very young new york.
thank you for your suggestion and endorsement.

i am,
sorry to hear of your "off" experience at the crosby.

Marilyn said...

When I visit a new tea venue I will ask them when they take my order if they will please decant my tea before bringing it out. If the leaves are still in the pot I send it back. I know this is obnoxious, but I can't stand over brewed tea. The ambiance does look nice and food sounds so good. Thanks for sharing.

VeeTea said...

I adore Lady Mendl's! Sorry to hear you had a bad tea experience at Crosby Street Hotel. Did you hear that In Pursuit of Tea opened a retail location just down the street (at 33 Crosby)? I have a press release I'd be glad to send you. If you email me at lindsey (DOT) goodwin (AT) gmail (DOT) com, I'll send it your way.