All the hoopla surrounding the queen's Diamond Jubilee surely has Brits standing a bit taller, and the rest of us maybe just a teeny bit envious of our friends across the pond. While the British aren't exactly known for fine dining, there's one thing we can all agree they do better than anyone else: afternoon tea.
With that in mind, here are a few of the top places in the United States to take tea. Most, but not all, proper afternoon teas are found in upscale hotels, so put on your fancy duds and raise a cup (and a pinky finger) to Her Majesty, the Queen.
A classical pianist provides the backdrop to the old-world elegance of afternoon tea at The Adolphus hotel in Dallas. The $38, four-course menu includes an assortment of teas, open-faced finger sandwiches, scones and pastries, plus an assortment of chocolate truffles. It also includes parking. There's a special holiday-themed tea around the holidays as well.
Afternoon tea at The Adolphus is served Friday to Sunday, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Reservations are required. Call (214) 742-8200, extension 3174.
Afternoon tea is served at the Rendezvous Court at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel every Wednesday through Sunday, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. The traditional "Victorian Tea" includes the expected scones, finger sandwiches and pastries for $28. Upgrade your tea to include sherry, Kir or sparkling wine ($32) or a glass of Laurent-Perrier champagne ($45).
For reservations, call 213 612 1562 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Live music accompanies the traditional afternoon tea served daily in the lobby of Chicago's Peninsula Hotel. There are nine teas from which to choose and the traditional tea menu features scones, finger sandwiches and sweet treats. Interestingly, there are also vegan and vegetarian options available upon request.
Afternoon tea is served Monday to Friday, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturdays at 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. and Sundays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Price is $42 per person. Call 312-337-2888.
The Plaza Hotel is perhaps the queen of all afternoon teas in the United States (pun intended) and certainly a worthwhile experience for locals and tourists alike. Served each afternoon in The Palm Court, afternoon tea at the Plaza offers a choice of 13 teas and then a choice of "The Classic" or "The New Yorker," both priced at $50. The difference here is the finger sandwiches; while The Classic offers Maine lobster and caviar; the New Yorker offers prosciutto and mozzarella. Both offer the same traditional scones and pastries. There is also a special "Chocolate tea" for those with an especially sweet tooth and a "Eloise Tea" (named for the famous fictional little girl who called The Plaza home) for children younger than 13.
Call 212-546-5300 for reservations. Tea is served from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The Willard hotel in Washington, D.C., serves tea Friday to Sunday in its Peacock Alley from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Afternoon tea (not technically High Tea, the web site points out, which is a slightly larger meal served between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m and then followed by a light dinner) costs $39 per person and includes a choice of eight teas plus an assortment of sandwiches, scones and pastries. For an additional $10, add on a glass of Moet Chandon Brut Imperial Champagne. Enjoy the harpist who plays during tea service.
The hotel will suspend tea service for the summer as of June 10 and resume in the fall. Get there fast. For reservations call (202) 637-7350.