Afternoon Tea in New York City


I grew up in Malaysia, a small Southeast Asian country that calls Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia its neighbors.  It’s a relatively young country, achieving independence only in 1957.  It was colonized by the Portuguese, the Dutch and then the British, with British rule being the longest.  You might be wondering where this is going.  This little history lesson is, quite simply, my roundabout way of justifying my penchant for afternoon tea.

Afternoon tea is still a common practice in Malaysia thanks to its colonizers, and many hotels and restaurants offer their take on it.  Some keep with the original British traditions and serve scones and sandwiches on tiered plates.  Others offer creative variations that incorporate more of the local cuisine.  Here in New York City, there are also a number of places to partake in afternoon tea.  While you can certainly find impressive spreads at the Ritz Carlton, the Plaza or the Mandarin Oriental, it can sometimes feel a little stuffy under the weight of all that tweed.  So I’ve picked out a few places that offer a more informal, fun experience.  Just in case you decide to throw your very own Mad Hatter Tea Party.

Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon

Afternoon Tea New York City - Mad Hatters NYC

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Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King at Cherry Lane Theatre

Standing in the small bend on Commerce Street in the West Village, waiting for the doors of the Cherry Lane Theatre to open, I take a quick glance around and note that Hasan Minhaj’s demographic is mostly what you’d expect: young and ethnic (myself included – well, definitely ethnic, young, not so much) .  And unsurprisingly, he starts out his performance acknowledging the “brown people” in the audience.  I cringe a little, fearing we’re in for a stale series of immigrant jokes that panders to a growing minority.  Thankfully, it pulls out of that treacherous territory quickly.  

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The Curious Case of the Hess Triangle (or something to see on the way to dinner)

“Hey, hey, easy kids. Everybody in the car. Boat leaves in two minutes… or perhaps you don’t want to see the second largest ball of twine on the face of the earth, which is only four short hours away?”

-Clark Griswold, National Lampoons Vacation

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