Seatings: Mon-Fri, 3pm and 5pm; Sat-Sun, noon, 2:30pm and 5pm
4, 5, 6, L, N, Q, R at 14th St.-Union Sq.
American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa
Elsie de Wolfe, the 20th century socialite and interior designer, famously loathed Victorian bric-a-brac, and probably would have been appalled by the décor of this tearoom bearing her married name. Nonetheless, the mismatched chairs, divans, fringed lights, and chinoiserie create a suitable setting for high tea. The 1834 brownstone that houses Lady Mendl's (and the Inn at Irving Place) has a meticulously restored interior, with roaring fireplaces and original moldings. The 16 or so tea sippers that fit into this small space consist of mother-daughter or first-date teams, or chit-chatty groups of friends. The first act of the five-course service is the selection of the tea. There are several choices of black, green, Oolong, and herbal varieties. The tea is brewed in the kitchen, not in the pot—a no-no for purists—but speedy refills are a consolation. Following a mixed green salad are dainty sandwiches: cucumber and mint crème fraîche, smoked salmon with dill cream cheese, smoked turkey and cranberry, and goat cheese with sundried tomatoes. Warm scones, encrusted with crystallized sugar, are accompanied by raspberry jam and absolutely heavenly Devonshire clotted cream. The best dish is a cake consisting of crepes layered with French vanilla-flavored mascarpone. And finally there are cookies and fresh, chocolate-covered strawberries.Extra
The weekend tea service is very popular; book several weeks in advance. Also know that cell phones are strictly forbidden. Behind the front parlor are three private rooms available for weddings and baby or bridal showers.