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.