The Plaza Hotel in New York City is a landmark and a Beaux-arts masterpiece, built in 1907 and occupying a prime piece of New York City real estate near the fabled corner of Fifth Avenue and Central Park South. While it normally offers a superb and elegant afternoon tea in its dramatic Palm Court with stained glass ceiling, that room is temporarily closed for refurbishment. Afternoon Tea is now being offered in The Champagne Bar, but it is not the “featured” event that one would expect to find in the Palm Court.
That being said, I still couldn’t resist visiting this grande dame of all New York hotels to sample their afternoon tea service . On the Champagne Room’s menu are caviar, oysters, cocktails, light food, afternoon tea and, of course, champagne. It is an elegant two-story space that is carved out of the Hotel’s main lobby area and has Fifth Avenue views overlooking the Pulitzer Fountain. Seating options are varied and include free standing tables and chairs, sofas, and high-backed upholstered chairs arranged two by two near the windows.
The clientele here is very cosmopolitan; guests at every table seem to be speaking a different language. You might see people toasting with champagne glasses, families sharing a light snack after a day out in the city, people getting together for a pot of tea, or couples meeting for a cocktail. The bright and airy two story room has light jazz music playing in the background and imparts an upbeat New York “energy” that is both lively and, at the same time, relaxed and restrained.
I chose the afternoon tea and while the available teas are not extensive ( a few black, herbal and green varieties), I selected The Plaza Afternoon Tea Signature Blend. The tea is brought to your table in a Bernardaud china teapot, already brewed.
On the three tier tray are tea sandwiches including English Cucumber with Diced Mint butter, Smoked Salmon with Horseradish Cream, Dijon Egg Salad, and Prosciutto de Parma with Asparagus.
The raisin scones are served with Double Devonshire Cream and a jar of Austrian garden strawberry jam.
To finish on a sweet note, the chef’s assorted pastries included a mango macaron and a large chocolate dipped strawberry.
The Champagne Bar is a delightful oasis from the hustle and bustle of the city and offers one of the more elegant venues for taking a much needed break from your busy day in New York. It’s very conducive to getting off your feet and relaxing in a very upbeat, New York kind of way. The room has definite energy, but not to the extent that it takes away from the relaxation of taking tea.
I will have to return when the Palm Court is re-opened and the hotel, once again, offers traditional afternoon tea in its premier setting.