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Afternoon Tea Time Experiences

In the past couple of weeks, I have had the pleasure of enjoying afternoon tea service at a couple of different places. These restaurants include Alice’s Tea Cup Chapter II and Measure at Langham Place on Fifth Avenue.

Alice’s  Tea Cup had a really whimsical, fanciful, lovely and cute ambiance.

We decided on the Mad Hatter Tea Service, which is absolutely perfect for two people. It comes with two pots of tea, 3 scones, 3 little sandwiches, a dessert of our choice and cookies. And it’s a steal for around $30 per person, for a substantial amount of food. We ended up having to take quite a bit home for later!

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For the tea, I picked Chocolate Chai and my friend chose Christmas Tea because we wanted to try something festive. Too bad there wasn’t a Fall Blend or Pumpkin-Something option. The Chocolate Chai is black tea spiced with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, clove, vanilla and sweetened with chocolate. It was lovely and rich, with a subtle flavor of chocolate. The Christmas Tea was a comforting blend of Indian black tea, hibiscus, raisins, rose hips, almonds, cinnamon and clove. I thought it tasted just okay, but I did enjoy it when it was mixed with the Chocolate Chai and milk.

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The sandwiches we selected were curried chicken salad and ham with gruyere. The curried chicken salad had red onion, celery, granny smith apple and tomato slices on golden raisin semolina. This was really nice with a huge amount of seasoning. But I really enjoyed the black forest ham and gruyere, which came with whole grain mustard and mayonnaise on golden raisin semolina bread. I think I tasted more mayonnaise than mustard, which was  a win for me. Though simpler, it had purer flavors and unexpectedly, I think I may have liked it a bit more than the curried chicken salad sandwich.

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For the scones, we of course had to try the pumpkin spice (‘Tis the season!), chocolate caramel and ginger molasses (50 cents more for that one). We tried the pumpkin one, which had a robust pumpkin flavor, on the spot and it was wonderful, especially with the homemade clotted cream and raspberry jam. We also tried it with some whipped cream we had and that was deliciously indulgent. Later, I had the rest of the scones and I enjoyed the chocolate chips in the chocolate caramel one, but the glaze of caramel taste was not that strong. The ginger molasses was heavy on both ginger and sweet molasses flavor and quite good.

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As for the dessert, we decided to order the chocolate mousse pudding, though I will have to come back for to try the mocha cake because I saw another table have it and it looked amazing! The chocolate mousse was certainly exquisite and delectable, with incredibly rich sweet milk chocolate and whipped cream. It was irresistibly creamy and smooth as silk.

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The service was great as well and I will definitely return, especially for that mocha cake and the s’mores dessert that I saw on the menu!

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For my second afternoon tea, I chose Measure, which is located within the first floor of Langham Place, a super swanky and gorgeous hotel on Fifth Avenue. The interior of Measure is elegance and sophistication personified with high ceilings, dark brown cushiony seats, lovely glass tables, pretty white accents.

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A friend and I came here for Modern Afternoon Tea (weekends between 2-5pm) and it was fairly empty, so we were able to sit wherever we liked. We chose to sit by the window, looking out at the hustle and bustle of New York City’s 5th Avenue street.

There were 3 loose leaf teas to select from: Earl Grey, Genmaicha and Mint. Just a note: If you don’t like the sound of any of those, they have 14 other types of tea (in tea bag form). I went for the classic, Earl Grey which was delightful with milk and the little cubes of brown sugar. My friend selected the Genmaicha, which is basically green tea with toasted rice. It had an sort of soothing, mild and earthy taste to it.

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Our food came out in a sort of bento box format and the presentation was absolutely exquisite. The 3 savory appetizers were on top and the 3 sweet treats were underneath. The hummus grougere came with vegetable pronvecale topping of colorful bell peppers. The hummus was good, with a creamy consistency and nice fresh taste. The king crab roll was adorable, with thousand island dressing and micro herbs on top, which looked a bit like caviar. I didn’t like micro herbs, but the rest of the roll was wonderful and I really enjoyed the ample amount of crab meat on it. My favorite of the savory delights was definitely the warm scotch egg, which had chopped pork and chorizo in the breading, as well as curry mayonnaise and lettuce on top. The breading was crispy, full of flavor and truly satisfying, especially accompanied by the well seasoned half cooked egg.

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Then there were the desserts. There was a chocolate and passion fruit French macaron that was quite large (on the menu it’s labeled incorrectly as a “Macaroon,” which is the coconut pastry, not the French cookie). The outer shell was bright pink, one of my favorite colors, with a dusting of pink & purple and a drizzle of white sugar glaze. The center was filled with rich chocolate mousse, raspberries and some passion fruit cream. The chocolate and raspberries overpowered the flavor of the passion fruit, but it was delicious nonetheless. Then there was a cookies and cream profiterole, with a fancy chocolate piece on top, along with broken up bits of oreo cookie. The profiterole was wonderfully sweet and lusciously creamy. Last, was the cheese cake filled chocolate covered strawberry. I’m a sucker for chocolate covered strawberries, so this was a big hit for me and the cheese cake filling, mingled with the chocolate was perfectly delectable.

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After all that, there was still more to be had… Nutmeg and cinnamon scones, with homemade jam and clotted cream. The scones were piping warm and had a strong flavor of cinnamon and the clotted cream was an amazing addition to the already yummy, melt in your mouth crumbly scones.

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This is a great place to come to enjoy a fancy afternoon tea, and at $35 per person, the pricing is not bad either!

The service was a little lackluster since the servers did not come by that often and we sometimes had to wait a bit to get their attention. However, when they did come around, they were attentive and polite.

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While Alice’s Tea Cup Chapter II had more substantial servings and was lower in price, Measure was more fancy with a more exquisite presentation and taste. However, I truly enjoyed both places for lovely tea afternoon experiences and would highly recommend both restaurants.

 

Alice’s Tea Cup Chapter II
156 E 64 St
New York, NY

Measure
400 5th Ave
New York, NY

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Winter Restaurant Week 2014

Winter Restaurant Week has now passed, but here is a  sampling of restaurants I tried this time around. Let’s begin with lunches…

City Lobster

City Lobster

Appetizer: Lettuce wedge salad, complete with cucumbers, tomatoes, crispy onions, bacon, and bleu cheese. Even though I’m not a huge fan of ice berg lettuce, I really liked the toppings.
Main:
Fish and Chips were great. The cod was extremely flaky and I would have liked slightly more crispy but the French fries were spot on.
Dessert:
Profiteroles (large cream puffs) with coffee ice cream and chocolate on top. This was delectable. The coffee ice cream inside complements the full sweet chocolate flavor.
Service: Good.
Location:
City Lobster
121 W 49 St
New York, NY

Craftbar

Craftbar

Appetizer: The warm pecorino fondue w/ acacia honey, hazelnuts & pepperoncini, as well as 4 long pieces of crostini, was out of this world amazing— I love the creamy taste of the thick pecorino cheese. The honey and pine nuts worked well with the cheese, while the crunchy crostinis were the perfect accompaniment.
Main:
Lumache Pasta Bolognese. The pasta was cooked al dente and the ragu with the sauce worked together beautifully. I would have liked a little more cheese on it, but overall was a solid choice.
Dessert:
Chocolate peanut butter pie with honey roasted peanuts was yummy. It was light, and had chocolate mousse as well as slight peanut butter flavor. The honey roasted peanuts added a layer of deliciousness.
Service: Very competent and friendly wait staff.
Location:
Craftbar
900 Broadway
New York, NY

Now, onto the dinners!

Rayuela

Rayuela

Starter: Cheesy bread was amazing. We were only given one piece, but I definitely could have had many more.
Appetizer: Garlic shrimp with foccacia bread. The garlic shrimp was extremely flavorful but had some specks of hot pepper so was a bit spicy. The foccacia bread was disappointing, as it seemed to be just regular bread.
Main: Salmon with butternut squash and brussel sprouts was good. The sauce was enjoyable and I liked the crispness of the salmon.
Dessert: Bread pudding with caramel sauce and bananas were okay. It wasn’t bread pudding in the traditional sense, but the pieces were still quite moist and I liked the sauce.
Service: Pretty good
Location:
Rayuela
165 Alllen St
New York, NY

L'Ecole

L’Ecole

Appetizer: Spinach fettuccine with braised duck leg ragu made with tomato jam and carrots. This was well done- Wonderful pasta with plenty of meat.
Main: Braised pork osso buco with risotto Milanese and gremolata was mouthwateringly good. The risotto had a robust flavor and the pork osso buco was perfectly tender and came off the bone easily.
Dessert: Chocolate with apple crisp was light and delightful.
Service: Attentive and thoughtful
Location:
L’Ecole
462 Broadway
New York, NY

Brasserie 8 1/2

Brasserie 8 1/2

Amuse-bouche: Chestnut soup had a nice flavor to it.
Appetizer: Consommé de Boeuf – Short Rib Consommé, Ravioli, Parsnips, Black Truffles
Side: French fries were so good, with just the right amount of crunch.
Main: Filet Mignon – Petit Filet, Potato Croquettes, Espelette Pepper Bearnaise
At first, my filet mignon did not come with the potato croquettes but they made up for it by giving me an extra one. The petit filet itself was delicious enough on its own… Perfectly tender, flavorful, but would have liked more of the sauce. The potato croquettes were decent, but I preferred the French fries.
Dessert: I was able to try both.

The tarte au citron (Meyer Lemon Tart) was pretty good. There was a strong lemon flavor and it was both tangy and sweet. I enjoyed the crust, however did not discern the taste of thyme scented honey and the crème fraiche was tasteless.

Macaron – Vanilla Macaron, Valhrona Chocolate Ganache, Hazelnut Ice Cream
I enjoyed the macaron more. The French Macaron was large, dusted with powdered sugar and had the perfect consistency and chewy texture. The Valhrona chocolate ganache was rich, creamy, delicious. The hazelnut ice cream was very tasty as well.

Service: Not the best and had a long wait time in receiving our meals. We received a plate of mini treats to make up for it: Sea salt caramel macarons, raspberry cookies, biscotti and mini chocolate chip cookies. All of the sweet treats were wonderful, especially the macaron and chocolate chip cookie.
Location:
Brasserie 8 1/2
9 West 57 St
New York, NY

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Dining at Slide

Slide is a newly open restaurant on Bleecker Street in the West Village, specializing in Sliders (What else?) My friend and I ate in the outdoor beautiful garden-like area in the back which had hanging plants & flowers, a rock wall with waterfalls that cascade gently into a pond with koi fish! It was lovely and made us feel like we were not in the city, enveloped in this outdoor haven.

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The sliders come three to an order, presented on a custom-made wooden cutting board with cylinders cut out to hold each individual mini burger. I decided to try a combination of different sliders: Classic beef slider, fried chicken with cheddar waffle, pork belly slider.

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The classic beef slider is made with a top secret meat blend that’s mixed in-house. It came with Manchego cheese, plum tomato, arugula, remoulade and caramelized onions and is delicious. The meat was perfectly juicy, flavorful, tender and all the flavors combined perfectly to create a wonderful culinary experience.

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The buttermilk fried chicken & cheddar waffle w/ maple bourbon pear butter & spicy coleslaw was decent, but didn’t quite live up to my expectations. The fried chicken was not as seasoned as I would have liked; the waffle, though orange did not have a pronounced cheddar flavor and was too dry. I had to ask for syrup to moisten and sweeten the waffle. Also, I could barely taste the maple bourbon pear butter.

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Last was the BBQ pork belly slider, which I had reservations about but turned out to be quite good. It was made with Monterey Jack, pickled onions & fried brussel sprouts. I didn’t really taste the brussel sprouts, but the pork belly was crispy, and a slightly sweeter version of ribs.

I also had Parmesan, garlic & herb fries, which came in a silver tin. They were pretty good, and had plenty of Parmesan shavings but not so much the garlic and herb. I would have enjoyed it more if the garlic and herb were mixed in and cooked with the french fries; instead it seemed like some Parmesan cheese was thrown on top and that was it. They also have curly fries cooked in bacon oil which dark chocolate shavings, which sounded delicious but a little too indulgent. Maybe next time.

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Also for next time I would like to try the CBLT -Crab cake with bacon; the bulgogi cheese steak; the lobster slider, as well as one of their shakes!

Afterwards, my friend and I walked along Bleecker Street and kept passing amazing, tempting shops with posters, cheese, macarons, books, cupcakes… We stopped in a couple of the places. I ended up trying some of the macarons at bisous, ciao which had a clear white window exterior and white walls, accented with hot pink paneling and hot pink twinkle lights. I chose lavender + honey and gianduja, which is a classic mix of hazelnut and milk chocolate. The lavender + honey was truly delightful: Light, delicate flavor of lavender married with the sweeter, richer taste of honeysuckle cream. The chocolate one was surprisingly not as delectable, and was heavier, more dense and doughy with not enough hazelnut flavor.

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Location of Slide Restaurant: 174 Bleecker Street, New York NY

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