Afternoon Tea Review // The St. Regis New York

I'm back at The St. Regis New York (see my last review from 2012) for afternoon tea with Georgia and Sara. Formerly Astor Court, tea service is now in the newly redesigned and renamed King Cole Bar & Salon.  

SETTING: ★★★☆☆
The redesigned space is now completely masculine with a dark color scheme. Gone are the plush sofas in warm tones and crisp white tablecloths; they were missed. The harpist was still there, which I liked, although I was thrown when a song from the movie Frozen was played on the harp. (The harpist is only there Wednesday - Sunday.)

SERVICE: ★★★★★
The service was excellent, as it usually is, although there was a tiny hiccup. After we were chatting for a bit, the server came over and placed the first course of savories in front of us. I didn't think anything of it, since we were there for afternoon tea, but Georgia doesn't eat meat and she didn't get a chance to let them know so that one of the tea sandwiches with roast beef could be replaced with something else.

TEA & TEA SELECTION: ★★★★★
I had previously given it 4 stars, due to the small selection of oolongs and white teas, but I'm going to now up it to 5 stars since looking at the tea menu again, it's a healthy selection, especially compared to other afternoon tea services. 

SAVORIES: ★★★★★
Before the three-tiered tray was carried out, the savories were served first, on a white plate. I didn't mind this, especially if it means the scones will arrive later, WARM, although they weren't very warm in this case.

Back to the savories -- they are excellent. Three traditional tea sandwiches, one roast beef on a bun, and a mini quiche. The variety was great and everything tasted freshly made.

Out came the three-tired tray with servings for all three of us. The top, scones (two each), and the bottom two were sweets (four each).

SCONES: ★★★★☆
Scones are served with Double Devonshire cream, preserves, and lemon curd on a separate plate in small pots. We were given two plates for the three of us, which meant two of us had to share one, and with two scones per person and with how much cream I like on my scones, we really needed a serving of jam and cream for each person. 

SWEETS: ★★★★★
A nice variety of sweets and they tasted great. The red fruit tart was my favorite since hidden in inside was a surprise matcha filling. 

OVERALL: ★★★★★
I'm sticking with keeping The St. Regis afternoon tea as the second best in New York City. (See my top 6 places for afternoon tea.) It lost some allure from the change in decor, but everything else about it is solidly good.

INFO: Astor Court at The St. Regis New York | 2 East 55th Street, at 5th Ave. | New York, NY 10022 | 212.339.6857
AFTERNOON TEA HOURS: Daily from 3PM - 5PM
COST: St. Regis tea, $55 | Menu

 

MatchaBar

Finally made it to MatchaBar. After a fantastic Japanese set lunch at Okonomi in Brooklyn, my friends and I walked over to MatchaBar a few blocks away.

It's the very first cafe with a matcha focus in New York City, and since I LOVEEEE matcha, I had to make sure to go for a visit, even if it seemed like it was in the middle of nowhere in Brooklyn -- well, Williamsburg, but not too close to a subway station.

After looking over the menu posted on the wall above the counter, I went with an iced matcha watermelon. The watermelon sweetened the matcha perfectly and it was surprising how well the flavors went together. 

Counter is on the left when you walk in and there's seating up front, along the opposite side of the counter, and a communal table in the back. I wished the interior of the cafe had a more refined look to it. 

Baked goods are in a case by the register. There weren't a lot of choices (as in 4-5 baked goods) and not everything was made with matcha, but the matcha canelé caught my eye.

We sat along the wall on stools and sipped our matcha drinks and munched on our sweets.

INFO: MatchaBar | 93 Wythe Ave. | Brooklyn, NY 11249 | 718.599.0015

Posted on October 17, 2014 .

San Francisco // Kensington Park Hotel

You know those people who don't care about the hotel when traveling since they say you're only in the room to sleep? I'm not one of those people. I care about the quality of my sleep too much.  

Aside from comfort, when looking for a hotel, it's all about location, location, location. Throw in complimentary Wi-Fi, and a tea (and sherry) hour, a plush bed, and great service, you've got me sold. 

While in San Francisco, I stayed at the Kensington Park Hotel which delivered on all counts. 

I loved the location of the hotel at Union Square, which was super close to everything including cable car stops. 

My friend Michele and I were pretty tired from our delayed flight so we were happy to check in to the hotel right away to settle in a bit then go out to explore before our early dinner. My travel style? Like the elderly. That's how I roll.

At the front desk, we were given key cards to our room with a corner view (two windows) and two double beds. When asked if we wanted suggestions on things to do in the city, a map magically appeared and markings were made to indicate where the hotel was and what area to avoid. The map was super handy in figuring out public transportation, especially the bus routes. (I love taking buses -- elderly travel style all the way.)

I'm not a fan of patterned comforters that YOU JUST KNOW hotels never wash, so I was delighted to see the beds looking so inviting with super crisp, white sheets and comforter covers.

Bathrobes were hanging in the closet, but no slippers. I called the front desk and inquired about slippers, and a couple of calls later, found out they no longer provide them -- bummer.

There isn't air conditioning in the room, but we went when the weather was in the 60's so we didn't need it anyway. There is a giant fan hanging in the room though.

A peek into the bathroom. We did have a problem with the plumbing and someone came up to our room to fix it, although it seemed like it was an ongoing minor issue. Not sure if it's a hotel-wide thing or our room thing. 

Plenty of towels, which I like. 

Bathroom amenities: Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, soap, shower cap, shoe mitt, and makeup remover wipes. Super nice touch with the makeup remover wipes. 

The "Ph" stands for Personality Hotels. The Kensington Park Hotel is a part of their collection of hotels in San Francisco.

After settling in, we headed back downstairs to the lobby for tea and sherry hour. 

One thing to note is that they had a bottle of wine with two glasses on the desk in our room which we didn't touch. I'm always a little wary of things left in the room without any notes to let you know if it's complimentary or not. The bottled waters were clearly labeled as an extra charge though so I'm assuming the wine was complimentary, but it's always nice not to have to guess.

Cold and hot tea for me, sherry for Michele, although after a sip, she opted instead for tea. This is one of those things where you think "why doesn't every hotel do this?" since it was such a nice gesture for hotel guests.

Overall, a lovely stay at the hotel. I slept soooo well on that bed. We spent three nights at the hotel and when checking out, it took 2 minutes. 

INFO: Kensington Park Hotel | 450 Post Street | San Francisco, CA 94102| 415.788.6400

//I received a media rate for my stay at the Kensington Park Hotel. All content and opinions expressed here are my own.//

Posted on October 15, 2014 .

All the Touristy Things I Did in San Francisco or How I Spent the Entire Time Riding Cable Cars

The only other time I visited San Francisco was when I was in elementary school and my family drove up the west coast, so the city is all fairly new to me. When visiting a place, I don't mind doing touristy things since I enjoy it usually. (I'm a native New Yorker and I love doing touristy things here.)

Here's what I did in San Francisco when I wasn't eating. (See everything I ate on this trip.)

I couldn't miss out on seeing the the Full House houses. They're called the Painted Ladies and they are made up of seven Victorian houses. With downtown as the backdrop and the houses vibrant in color, it's easy to see why there were a ton of people standing in the park taking photos.

Then this happened. I rode a cable car for the first time. I was HOOKED. (Thankfully I got day passes at a Walgreens to get my money's worth. A one day pass is $15 and a single ride on a cable car is a whopping $6 so yes, it's for tourists only.)

The entire trip was me trying to ride the cable cars as many times as I could.

I rode the cable car during the day.

I rode the cable car at night.

I rode the cable car sitting down. I rode the cable car standing up. (You should have seen the death grip I had on the pole while riding up front, standing.)

The lines can get long, but for me, totally worth it. It's like a roller coaster for the elderly. I loved it.

So picturesque! Famous for being the crookedest street with eight hairpin turns on a single block, Lombard Street is always camera-ready with its lush greens and pops of soft pink.

I walked up the steps to the top of the block, then walked back down and took some more pics. It was a workout. 

But don't worry. A cable car was never too far away.

Have suggestions on what should I do the next time I'm in San Francisco?

 

Posted on October 13, 2014 .

AlmondMade + Dona Chai = Perfect Together

Queenie, this blog's cooking/baking guru, has been busy the last few months with AlmondMade, an exceptional almond milk that's currently available in select bakeries and coffee shops in NYC including Arcade Bakery, Everyman Espresso, and Little Collins. It was Queenie who told me about Dona Chai, a Brooklyn based company that makes a delicious chai tea concentrate.

I love my from-scratch chai recipe but I'm also super lazy, so I was delighted to have access to a shortcut to a great cup of chai. I made a quick chai latte by heating up the chai tea concentrate (1/2 cup), then the almond milk (1/2 cup), and using a milk frother, quickly frothed the milk. It was so easy, and so good. In less than 4 minutes, I had a perfect cup of frothy chai latte. I'll be drinking this all winter.

//Thanks to AlmondMade and Dona Chai for the complimentary samples. All content and opinions expressed are my own.//

Posted on October 9, 2014 .