Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon

56 Irving Place
New York, NY 10003
(212) 533-4600
Hours: Wed, Thurs, Fri: seatings at 3:00 and 5:00 pm
Sat, Sun: seatings at 2:00 and 4:30 pm
Reservations required

Poised, teacup in hand, the scene unfolds around you like a dream. The room’s mahogany molding is illuminated by the dim glow of candlelight, and the abundant array of flowers rounds out the pink and white color scheme. The generous spread of baked goods, stacks of fine china and silver, and genteel service befit a 19th century tearoom in England. Yet this isn’t a scene out of a Victorian novel – this is Lady Mendl’s, a tea salon in modern day New York City.

Lady Mendl’s is picture perfect. Ideal for a romantic pot of tea or an afternoon with the ladies, this tea spot is a well-kept secret. It is discretely housed on the second floor of a brownstone on an otherwise residential block. The only indication of its presence is a little plaque on the exterior of the building with a teacup. Lady Mendl’s feels like a getaway – a welcome respite from the frenzied pace of the city.

If not just for escape, then check out Lady Mendl’s for their scones, which are perfectly crumbly and served with real clotted cream (not easy to find). The tea selection is fairly traditional, offering English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Ceylon, and Darjeeling, as well as several varieties of Chinese green and black teas. The five-course tea service menu ($30) is decidedly British, à la afternoon tea.

From salad to dessert, the quality is consistently high. The finger sandwiches are appropriately dainty, lacking crusts like the best of them. The cucumber, mint, and crème fraîche sandwich, in particular, is a lovely departure from the usual cucumber and cream cheese combination. The sandwiches are followed by not one, but three dessert courses, including a 25-layer crepe cake -an original addition to the otherwise traditional menu. It consists of 25 layers of crepes, with French cream in between each one. The dessert strikes the perfect balance between light and rich, achieving moistness without sogginess. But poise and equilibrium seem to be Lady Mendl’s’ strong suits, judging from the interior, the food, and the tea itself.