My dear friend and I have birthdays a day apart and every year we pick a place to celebrate together. This year, we decided to go for a fancy tea instead of lunch or dinner and it proved to be a great decision.
Lady Mendl’s is hidden away at the Inn at Irving Place behind doors that make you think you’re walking into someone’s private brownstone. A small teacup plaque near the front door is the only clue that you are indeed in the right place, and it gives the feeling of walking into a little treasure.
Inside, the small rooms are decorated in warm, cozy light, antique furniture and plenty of candles and fresh flowers. After the host took our coats in the greeting room, we were led to a wonderful pair of leather sofas in front of a roaring fireplace. As girly as going out to tea may sound, this had such a romantic feel that It would make for a lovely date as well, assuming that your date loves delicious snacks, tea and excellent service.
We began with a wonderful butternut squash amuse bouche which was hot from the oven, perfectly smooth in it’s crispy shell, and so full of squashy flavor. My bouche was indeed amused.
Next, my chamomile tea was served with sugar cubes, including one particularly pretty decorated one that sat next to my cup. Delicious and poured beautifully by our server.
The waiter then came around with a tray full of tea sandwiches which we could choose from- with no limits I might add! Knowing that we had a lot more coming, we chose to share a few different ones including: smoked salmon with dill cream cheese on pumpernickel, cucumber with crème fraiche on brioche, turkey on seven grain and classic egg salad on rye. They were all delightful and petite- as they should be.
Next were the scones, one buttermilk and one cranberry. They were served with jam and clotted cream- although I must admit that I prefer the cream at Alice’s Tea Cup- another favorite tea spot of mine, which is a bit fluffier and thicker. The cream here was a bit running and loose. The scones however, were wonderful. It was a good thing that just two small ones were served because I think I could have polished off a whole basket full of them.
The dessert was my favorite course. It’s not hard to see why this cake is the one that Lady M is famous for. Wow. About a million layers as thin as crepes were piled high with a spread of whipped cream in between each. Underneath the cake was fresh raspberry coulis, the perfect accompaniment. It was SO indulgent, SO light, beautiful, simple and really incredible tasting.
Just in case we weren’t totally stuffed by then, our last and final course was served. I will call this one dessert, the sequel. A plate of handmade cookies and chocolate covered strawberries. I’m not sure how I managed to find room but I can assure you that I did. No cookie went unfinished. My favorite was the heart shaped butter cookie half-dipped in dark chocolate, and of course, the strawberries.
Overall, I was totally delighted by this experience. I would go back in a heartbeat- and would love to take a group of ladies and/or family there sometime. I think it is best on a chilly winter day to go and make sure to get that fireside spot. Enjoy this special place!