Our peregrinations in search of excellent tearooms have taken us to New York, to the Inn at Irving Place in the historic Gramercy Park area, home to Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon.
Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon must be one of the most romantic Tea Salons we have ever encountered. The ambiance is all very proper and you will enjoy a most excellent five-course tea, consisting of a variety of classic finger sandwiches, fresh baked scones with clotted cream and jams, and a large selection of fine teas. The service is discrete and impeccable.
And who was Lady Mendl? Well it turns out she was a good ol’ American girl. She was Elsie de Wolfe, the actress, interior decorator; author of the influential 1913 book, The House in Good Taste, and a prominent figure in New York, Paris, and London society. During World War I, she volunteered as a nurse in France, and it was not until nearly the end of her career that, at the age of 61, she married Sir Charles Mendl, a British diplomat. Elsie De Wolfe/Lady Mendl became a legend for exquisite entertaining.
The Victorian architecture and its equally Victorian furnishings recreate a time of magnificent elegance within Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon. Guests can easily envision Edith Wharton or Henry James entertaining friends at the turn of the century, which of course they did.
The Lady Mendl Tea Salon is located in a brownstone – that unique New York low rise house. Originally, it was two single family brownstones, built in 1834 at the corner of 17th and Irving Place. Over the years, the brownstones have endured the test of time, hosting a myriad of tenants – a day spa, a Speak Easy and a men’s club. Now they create the charming Inn at Irving Place, which opened its door in December of 1994.
Don’t even think of taking tea at Lady Mendl’s without pre-booking.
56 Irving Pl., between E. 17th and E. 18th Sts.Gramercy Park, New York, NY 10003
Phone: 212/533-4600; 800/685-1447