Podunk, a tearoom in the East Village, is a lot more casual than most places that serve afternoon tea. The menu offers variations on afternoon tea. Nothing more and nothing less.
This tiny space is filled with a random assortment of tables and chairs and looks like leftover furniture from your grandmother’s attic. It’s very casual and filled with knick knacks. Sit closer to the back when it’s cold out so you’ll feel less of a draft every time the door opens and closes.
The tearoom is run by the owner, Elspeth, who took our order at the counter, served us the food and answered any questions I had. The service was good, and it’s worth noting a couple of things so you know what to expect when you go. Orders are taken at the counter. You get a menu at the back counter, sit down and figure out what you want. Then you go back to the counter to place your order. When asking for anything, it’s easier to walk back to the counter than yell across the tearoom since Elspeth usually stays back there. When done, go back to the counter to pay. She’ll ring it up right then and there. No cards accepted. Prices on the menu include the tip, so no need to leave a tip on the table!
The menu is slightly confusing and a little hard to read since it’s in a cursive font, but after asking a couple of questions, I decided on “Our Old Friend’s Tea” at $29 per person, which is closest to a traditional afternoon tea. After a little while, a lovely tray filled with tea, tea sandwiches, scones, and sweets arrived.
TEA & TEA SELECTION: ★★★★★
The suggested tea with the order was an Earl Grey and I went with that. The tea selection is extensive with a wide variety. Tea here is sourced from multiple places but they’re all served loose-leaf.
There’s only one kind of tea sandwich offered with my order, a cucumber sandwich. Ok, this sounds boring and I wish there was an option to order an assortment of tea sandwiches with “Our Old Friend’s Tea” BUT once I bit into the first one, I was hooked. BEST cucumber sandwiches I’ve ever had. Made to order, with alternating soft white bread and whole wheat with butter and cucumbers in the middle. Delicious. This is how all cucumber sandwiches should taste.
The size of the scones were great and I loved the little teacups that held the jams. No clotted cream, just a generous serving of whipped cream. The scones themselves were just ok, but the homemade jams were excellent. At one point, I ditched the knife and used a teaspoon to scoop heapfuls of jam onto the scone.
Now onto the sweets. A nice assortment made up of cookies, strawberries, and a raspberry tart, all made in-house. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. The standouts were the tart (great crust!) and the ginger cookie (chewy and flavorful).
I was a little tentative at first about this place since it was so casual, but after my first visit and knowing how everything works, I know I’ll be back for repeat visits.
LOCATION: Podunk | 231 East 5th Street btw. Cooper Square & 2nd Ave. | New York, NY 10003 | 212.677.7722
AFTERNOON TEA HOURS: Served all day
COST: For “Our Old Friend’s Tea” $29 (menu prices includes tip, so no need to leave extra)