Alice’s Tea Cup is Pretty Tea-y but Not So Alice-y
September 6th, 2012 by donuts4dinner

My friend Kim online-introduced me to her hometown-friend-with-a-blog Katie Qué (pronounced kay) a few months ago, telling me that she’s a much more interesting blogger than I am and that I’d love her posts about “Game of Thrones” and her many and varied photos of her much-personalitied cat. Within days, we had created a House Katie sigil and motto. (Sorry if that means nothing to you. Wait, no, I’m NOT sorry. Watch “Game of Thrones”. And also “Girls”. Mostly “Girls”, actually.)

Katie Qué came to visit her friend Patrick last weekend and was kind enough to invite me to be a part of her wallet-emptying/belly-filling/Alice-in-Wonderland-obsessing odyssey. My portion of the adventure included brunch at Alice’s Tea Cup, the beloved Upper East Side café with a Saturday morning waitlist far too long for me to ever bother with it. But Kim luckily lives mere blocks away and put our name in early so the rest of us could arrive an hour and a half later with none of those this-better-be-worth-it feelings that a long wait usually leaves me with.

Alice's Tea Cup NYC

To put it bluntly, I don’t give a crap about tea and didn’t really even plan to order any, but then I decided on a dish that came ready-made with a pot, so the four of us ended up sharing pots of Alice’s Tea, a blend of Indian black vanilla tea blended with Japanese green tea and rose petals, and of Darjeeling Earl Grey, a Darjeeling flavored with bergamot.

Alice's Tea Cup NYC

I was really, really surprised by how much I liked the tea. Especially the Darjeeling, which was just bursting with that deep, dark, depths-of-winter orange, both in smell and in flavor. The mismatched cups and saucers, the sugars and milk, the little spoons–I loved the shabby formality of it.

Alice's Tea Cup NYC

Katie Qué looks so petite behind her giant cup, and Patrick appears as if he’s plotting a bergamot-fueled bank heist. In the 1950s.

Alice's Tea Cup NYC

Kim just looks pretty.

Alice's Tea Cup NYC

Alice's Tea Cup NYC

I ordered The Nibble, a two-tiered stand with a sandwich of my choice on top; a scone, a pot of clotted cream and preserves, and an assortment of cookies filled the bottom plate. My sandwich was the Black Forest ham and gruyere, and I was probably about as excited by the look of it as you are. It’s kind of a piddly thing next to the mile-high Katz’s pastramis of the world, right? But I soon forgot how flat and unadorned it appeared when I bit through the golden-raisin-studded bread to the whole grain mustard and then to the sweet and salty ham and cheese. It was more complex than I expected and also more filling.

Alice's Tea Cup NYC

I couldn’t have been happier with my pumpkin scone, which was glazed crunchy on the outside but stayed warm and soft on the inside so as to melt the sweet, thick clotted cream. I wasn’t sure the berry preserves would go well with pumpkin, but together, they were this perfect end-of-summer/start-of-fall, warm/cool combination. If the wait wasn’t so unmanageable, I can see myself coming to Alice’s every weekend for their $10 two-scones-and-a-pot-of-tea deal just to have this again.

Alice's Tea Cup NYC

Everyone else ordered the vegetarian egg white omelet to punish themselves or something, but this dish ultimately got the last laugh by including these roasted pears that the three of them couldn’t stop raving about. I think Katie Qué may have been inspired to write an entire cookbook centered on roasted pears that afternoon.

Alice's Tea Cup NYC

My cookies, on the other hand, inspired me to remember to stick to the scones in the future. There was a chocolate chip, a sugar cookie with sprinkles, a cranberry, and a white chocolate-macadamia. As someone who only likes fresh, soft cookies so heavy with butter they can barely maintain their cookie form, these seemed old and stale to me. Between the four of us, we only ate half of each.

Alice's Tea Cup NYC

A good time was had by all, and I can certainly see myself coming back to Alice’s to have a chance to eat that preserve-laden scone and drink that orangey tea again. It’s a charming little café for people in the neighborhood. I have no idea why this is a destination for out-of-towners, though, in the same way I don’t understand why Serendipity 3 is. The Alice in Wonderland theme is minimal, unless you consider adding the word “Alice” to “eggs Florentine” a real nod to Lewis Carroll. The service is plenty nice, but we were taken aback when our server brought us our last pot of tea and told us we’d reached our time limit for taking up a table at the same time. I guess they know I don’t know where else to get clotted cream.

Alice’s Tea Cup
156 East 64th Street
New York, NY 10065 (map)

8 Responses  
  • Katie Qué writes:
    September 6th, 20123:38 pmat

    Oh, that scone and those M-F pears. Hot damn.

    Also, forgive me for forgetting, but our Sigil is a fire-breathing cat, no?

    • donuts4dinner writes:
      September 7th, 201210:09 amat

      Totes. I know you chose another one for us, but this one is my favourite because it kind of looks like the cat’s yawning. And I’m lazy, so it’s appropriate.

      • Katie Qué writes:
        September 7th, 20122:21 pmat

        What would be great is if the cat was blowing fire onto creme brulee or something.

  • Jessica R. writes:
    September 6th, 201210:15 pmat

    Ok, if you ever come visit Shreveport I’m taking you to the Glenwood Tea Room. The food and tea are both amazing and there are no time limits. Plus there is a gift shop full of great old lady wears and collectible teapots. NYC may almost always win at food, but the South will win at old lady charm any day of the week.

    • donuts4dinner writes:
      September 7th, 201210:40 amat

      Sounds great! There’s a severe lack of old lady charm here. All of the old ladies are still wearing sequined halter tops and drinking their tea out of beerbongs.

  • Kim writes:
    September 10th, 20129:23 pmat

    This post made me realize/wonder … do you even know Katie’s actual last name? I hope not. So much more amazing that way.

    If not for my usual face/Shark Night 3D, I would almost like that photo of myself because it nearly looks like I have brown eyes, and I’ve wanted brown eyes my entire life.

    I’ve also wanted another scone every day since we had brunch.

  • Kim writes:
    September 10th, 20129:24 pmat

    Also, those frickin’ pears. Dreams.

  • Mrs. Bachelor Girl writes:
    September 13th, 20128:33 pmat

    Wait, there is a time limit for taking up a table? For serious?

    Well, score one for Shreveport, because such a thing simply does not exist here. I would be righteously indignant on your behalf if I weren’t too busy daydreaming about clotted cream. And a pumpkin scone? I must figure out how/where to procure one of those immediately.

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