I ADORE Afternoon Tea! What’s not to love about this English tradition? As a tea lover myself, there is an excitement in selecting amongst the different flavors and types offered at an afternoon tea service. Not to mention, as a foodie, the enchanting array of goodies that are part of this time honored ritual which always makes for a tasty adventure when indulging at different venue.
Considering the difficulty for Long Islanders to hop over the “pond” to London anytime one gets a craving for this British specialty, I took it upon myself to go on an Afternoon tea expedition, around Long Island.
The findings were delightfully pleasing and I can assuredly recommend four Afternoon Tea dining experiences that passed the persnickety and discerning expectations of me and my teenage daughters, who have experienced the real thing in London several times. I hope you will give them a try when you are in the mood to engage in this British custom should your travels take you to Long Island.
230 Merrick Rd, Rockville Centre, NY * (516) 208-8521
Tea Service: $22.75 per person
Vegetarian & Vegan Available
With light and airy decor, an open white backdrop and quintessential European-styled, ornate moldings, this friendly bistro serves an English tea service in an otherwise French atmosphere. Musique Française fills the restaurant creating a Parisian ambience that is delightful.
I’ve eaten here in the past, dining on their delicious salads and scones, but my most recent visit, which included my girls, was exclusively for Chat Noir’s tea service.
The tea menu is filled with a variety of black, green, fruit and herbal selections. It has become a tradition when having afternoon tea, that each of us order a different blend so we can all share. Blood orange (fruit tea), Cinnamon-Chocolate (black tea) and Green Almond (green tea) were our choices during this excursion. While I rarely take milk in my tea, it tasted delicious with the cinnamon chocolate tea.
Three-tiered Tea Service filled with scones, sandwiches and pastries with pot of tea (blood orange fruit tea) (c) travelincousins.com
Our three-tiered display of goodies was filled with a variety of scones, pastries, namely the cutest swan-shaped cream puffs and an assortment of sandwiches, which included egg salad, cream cheese and cucumber and a scrumptious chicken salad along with a variety of scones – chocolate chip, cranberry, and cinnamon.
Our server was polite and accommodating, as was the hostess, who was exceptionally friendly and welcoming!
GARDEN CITY HOTEL
45 7th St, Garden City, NY * (516) 747-3000
Traditional Tea Service: $45 per person
Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Paleo and Plant-Based Available Upon Request
Entrance to the Polo Lounge in The Garden City Hotel – home to Afternoon Tea every Saturday at 2pm (c) travelincousins.com
Looking for an elegant and formal way to enjoy Afternoon Tea? Then look no further than The Garden City Hotel. Every Saturday afternoon, beginning at 2pm, The Polo Lounge offers their grand tea service, with an exquisite offering of teas, sweets and savory delicacies. Three tiers filled with cakes, mini pastries and desserts in all shapes, flavors and presentations are complemented by a variety of finger sandwiches.
My daughters and I felt like we were on a food adventure, tasting and trying each of the perfectly designed and prepared, aesthetic works of pastry art that adorned our display tower! Savory sandwiches included Minted Cucumber, Roast Turkey with Cranberry Orange Aioli Roasted Pear, Brie and Walnuts.
Timeless Silver tea pots (c) travelincousins.com
ROBINSON’S TEA ROOM
97 Main St, Stony Brook, NY * (631) 751-1232
British Afternoon Tea Service: $28 Per person
Children’s Tea Service: $19 Per child
In the center of Stony Brook, one of Long Island’s most beloved hamlets, is the fanciful and intimate Robinson’s Tea House. Casual and very kid-friendly, Robinson’s is located in the heart of Stony Brook Village Center, amidst a lovely backdrop of shops and outdoor seating.
Relaxed and full of quaint shabby-chic decor, this tea house is a must-visit for a cheery and informal afternoon of tea and eats. Most endearing are the numerous teapots, vessels and accents adorning the intimate interior space.
Our visit to Stony Brook was rather last minute and although I did not have advanced reservations, they were able to fit us in with only a day’s advance notice. The wait staff was quite friendly and personable and even took on the role of photographer, snapping pics of us!
Food-wise, the assortment is terrific! A choice of scone, clotted cream and raspberry jam along with finger sandwiches filled with egg salad, and cucumber and garden spread were accompanied by seasoned chicken salad phyllo and Spinach & Cheddar Quiche presented beautifully and tasting equally luscious.
Robinson’s also offers a special Children’s Tea Service, if you are bringing along your little ones to experience this timeless tradition. My younger daughter thought she would give it a try, as the food assortment included her favorites. This colorful and eye appealing offering includes a creative grouping of kid-friendly popular sweets and savories including a choice of scone, choice of peanut butter and jelly, Nutella and Fluff or grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, mini pizzas, fruit skewers and a children’s pastry assortment.
However, she also managed to steal one of my mini spinach and cheddar quiches, which she devoured! The choice of tea was not easy at all, as there are 40 different varieties. In the end, I went with English Breakfast – a traditional favorite!
SECRET GARDEN TEA CAFE
225 Main St, Port Jefferson, NY * (631) 476-8327
Full Afternoon Tea: $35.00 per person
Vegetarian & Vegan Available
If you are in search of an Afternoon Tea experience that is impeccable in its attention to every last detail, then you must visit Secret Garden Tea Cafe. Located in the quaint seaside town of Port Jefferson, Secret Garden takes guests into a dreamy, fantasy world with its victorian decor, floral accents and soft, Spring color palette of an outdoor garden!
Established eight years ago by a mom and daughter duo, Katie, the cafe and shoppe manager, and her mom, Carol, the creative genius behind the recipes and cooking, it is one of the finest tea services I have ever had, in America or England for that matter.
The fantasy begins upon entering the Victorian-themed cafe-shoppe, clad with floral bouquets, lovely adorned tables, and charming china. Guests are escorted to their table and offered the opportunity to visit the hat room where they are welcome to try on and wear a hat of choice during their dining experience, in the tradition of English tea time. Although my girls were not inclined to do so, I gladly partook in finding a hat of my choice!
The Secret Garden Cafe, Port Jefferson – three tier “Full Afternoon Tea” service (c) travelincousins.com
The overall attention to detail had us smiling with surprise and increased enjoyment as the meal proceeded. From the quaint sugar and creamers, to the floral tablecloths, the various serving utensils, including the mini ones, to the flower embellished three-tier server, it was all enchanting. And that is before even tasting the food.
I was most struck by the original spin given to each of the food items served, both in terms of their miniature size as well as their colorful preparation and presentation. The edibles were a perfect balance of sweet and savory. Every delicacy was its own specialty, and the thought and effort that went into each one was obvious, only topped by the exquisite flavor and taste.
The tea selection was amazing – much to choose from and many varieties. I decided on the Lavender Lace, which was a combination of lavender, mint and rosemary. Although, this sounds like an unusual mixture, it was surprisingly delicious. My two daughters both opted for Rainbow Cookie tea – and yes, it tasted just like the infamous cookie for which it is named!
Our service included two types of scones, an assortment of berries, a delectable raspberry mousse served in a mini teacup with a chocolate handle, mini cheesecakes, mini spinach quiche and variety of mini finger sandwiches, served on different breads, in eye-catching shapes.
The meal was ended with a hot towel and an opportunity to enjoy the intimate victorian themed gift shop, filled with a potpourri of tea related items and gifts.
Here’s to getting your tea on!
Elisa Valentino Award-winning travel blogger and freelance writer, “Travelin’ Elisa” is a native New Yorker who has and continues to travel the world. She is co-founder of TravelinCousins.com with her cousin Travelin’ Tanya and has featured weekly columns in both ThisIsTheBronx.info and HeartOfTheBronx.com.