Hidden among the cafés and residential buildings along Irving Place is The Inn at Irving Place. Its large brown doors are only indicated by a small plaque. Its interior is even less like a lodging. The entrance leads to a drawing room with scented candles everywhere and a host awaiting guests’ arrival. Many of the guests only stay at the inn for about two hours to enjoy Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon.
Unlike other establishments, Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon serves all the guests the same dishes at the same pace at the same time. Therefore, it is important to arrive a little bit early. After checking in with the host, the different parties disperse onto the plush sofas in the room. When the afternoon tea service is ready to begin, the host leads each party to its table in the dining room.
Besides cream and sugar, each table has a small basket of candied ginger for the tea. It is supposed to give some spicy sweetness to the tea when added. But, instead, I ate most of mine straight out of the ceramic basket.
Once everyone sat down and ordered tea, the wait staff brought everyone a teapot. The day’s Amuse Bouche, Tea Sandwiches, Scones, and Lady Mendl’s Signature Cake (which was a slice of vanilla mille feuille today) followed with enough time in between to savor each bite.
Although I was looking forward to a pastry tower, the fact that all the dishes are served for all the guest at the same time made it felt like we were having one big tea party. After dessert, the tea party ended and everyone left Lady Mendl’s at about the same time as well.