At the corner of 60th and 5th Avenue, The Pierre Hotel offers a particularly chic afternoon tea inside the 2E Bar/Lounge. Caviar-topped blini are served alongside cucumber and smoked trout sandwiches. Sweet ginger scones come with devonshire cream and lemon curd. Mini lemon meringues are pucker sweet, and and the caramel eclairs and downright addictive. As for what tea to drink? Request the off-menu "Warm Sunrise," a concoction of chamomile, fresh orange and lemon, honey, and cinnamon. You won't be disappointed.
Afternoon tea in the The Pembroke Room of The Lowell is an elegant and unassuming affair. The tea room is tucked away on the second floor of this Upper East Side spot, which does one of the best tea services in town. Dress in your finest—it's only fitting for sandwiches of sweet Maine lobster salad and smoked salmon and caviar pinwheels. The servers are knowledgeable about every aspect of the tea service, including the proper way to cut a scone (of which they do three flavors!) or the right tea to pair with your meal. A true gem indeed.
Cha-An offers a Japanese take on the traditional afternoon tea in the most serene setting possible. Start with hand-whisked matcha (or perhaps an iced matcha latte in the summer), and then settle in for an afternoon tea that starts with miniature sandwiches on warm, soft bagel-like rounds. This is the only place in the city where you'll find earl grey scones baked to order, intense and heady with ground tea leaves mixed into the dough. They're served with soft cream and jam.
Ritz-Carlton Central Park
The scones served at Ritz-Carlton Central Park come straight from the oven, still warm and finished with a crackly sugar crust. They're the largest in town, golden and studded with plump raisins, made to pair with pots of devonshire cream and blueberry jam. After the scones comes a mini three tier tray of sandwiches (think poached shrimp on pumpernickel and cheddar-pepper scones with endives and caramelized onions). Tea finishes with a parade of desserts like whimsical red velvet cakes and cream puffs.
Bosie Tea Parlor
Hands down the best deal for afternoon tea in the city: $25 for a full afternoon tea set with housemade everything: picture perfect macarons offered in over a dozen flavors, tender tea cakes, delicate tea sandwiches (always made to order) such as the farmer's egg salad dotted with thyme blossoms, chicken breast with curried mayo and sweet raisins, and a large selection from Bosie's in-house tea line, l'Âge de Thé. If you've got extra space, add on a gorgeous Darjeeling Tart or Bosie's own Ispahan.
Reservations are required at this Irving Place gem tucked inside a townhouse. The diners are mainly female, and the servers? All male. Instead of the usual three tier setup, each course (five in total) is served one at a time. Start with an amuse, followed by finger sandwiches (with seconds if you desire!), warm scones, a slice of Lady M's signature crepe cake, and an assortment of petit fours.