The Plaza's Palm Court Afternoon Tea Renaissance
by Ellen Easton
©2008-2010 All Rights Reserved

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Plaza Court Entrance
Palm Court Entrance - Photo By Ellen Easton ©2008 - All Rights Reserved/center>

When The Plaza, at age 98, closed its doors in 2005, it was not the end of an era. It was, in fact, to become the renaissance of one New York City's most treasured institutions.

The new ownership of Elad Properties, in partnership with Kingdom Holdings, in combination, invested over one billion dollars in a two year, lobby to roof renovation. Under the management of The Fairmont Group, The Plaza, a Henry Janeway Hardenbergh Beaux Art masterpiece, under the watchful eye of the award winning design teams of Gal Nauer Architects, Costas Kondylis & Partners, Walter B. Melvin Architects and Rani Ziss Architects have created a new haven of luxury.

No expense has been spared to insure that every detail is of the highest quality, not only in the materials and decor, but in the personnel and service as well.

Palm Court Laylight
Palm Court Laylight - Photo© - Courtesy of The Plaza

From the moment the doors opened in 1907, The Plaza became a venue of choice as a world destination point. The Plaza has hosted celebrated and prominent personalities, including the fictional and mischievous Eloise, George M.Cohan, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Marilyn Monroe, the Beatles, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Leonard Bernstein, and Truman Capote.

The Palm Court, the heartbeat of The Plaza, with the million dollar restoration of a 1,800 square foot stained glass laylight not seen for fifty years, returns to a grandeur worthy of its National Historic landmark status.

The Plaza, whose very name has come to represent the epitome of unparalleled luxury and unstinting hospitality, serves afternoon tea daily in the Palm Court.

Surrounded by the European splendor of the Palm Court courtyard, the afternoon tea caters to the different tastes of its sophisticated clientele.

A blend of the best tea - time traditions with new and innovative ideas, creates a balance and flavorful combination to appeal to all guests.

Once again the melodious songs of a piano waft through the room, against a decor of French blue and marigold yellow and ivory, the tables are set with the finest linen, crystal, Bernaudaud-Limoges china, and Christoffle silver. The floral arrangements are breathtaking.

The Plaza Place Setting Photo - By Ellen Easton - All Rights Reserved

Having been The Plaza's tea consultant for two decades, to be a part of such an exciting endeavor was both and honor and a privilege. To be working with such an outstanding group of professionals was a dream come true. While not directly responsible for the latest incarnation, many of the traditional elements of my consultation remain a part of the new 2010 menu.

Shane Krige, the general manager of The Plaza, has selected a new Executive Chef, Willis Loughhead, and a new Pastry Chef, Jasmina Bojic, who happens to make a superb scone. All the foods and sweets are artistically crafted to please the eye. The tea vendor has blended several private label teas exclusively for The Plaza's Palm Court.

Creating an afternoon tea program can be a solitary endeavor, but more often than not it is a team effort.  In order to produce a five star serviced menu it takes more than a team, it takes an army of dedicated people.

There are many challenges when serving afternoon tea in a large venue. The Palm Court has once again reverted to the traditional English self-service, three-tier stand. Waiving the correct position of the foods presented with the scones on top, sandwiches in the middle, and pastries on the bottom, the management has decided to forgo tradition and showcase the delicate pastries on top, with the warm scones in the middle, and the sandwiches on the bottom. Regardless of the presentation, be mindful that the correct manner in which one consumes the foods remains sandwiches first, scones second, followed by the sweets.

Whether it be in the kitchen making certain that every bread is fresh, every cookie crisp, every plate artistically arranged or the wait staff who seem to be in constant motion, all have shown great pride in what they do to make the guest's experience perfect. They are trying their hardest to be the best.


Afternoon Tea at The Plaza

The Plaza Tea for One - Photo by Ellen Easton - All Rights Reserved

As the Palm Court is a formal setting, formal table service is indeed appropriate. All thirteen premium quality loose leaf white, green, oolong, and black teas, herbal, and Rooibus infusions are served in a two cup teapot, fully decanted. The decanting of the tea keeps the leaves from stewing in the pot. Your second cup should be as good as the first. As no detail is too small, milk for your tea may be served warm on request.


There are two adult menus, The Classic and The New Yorker, each is priced at forty-five dollars per person. Both are generously proportioned and no guest leaves unsatisfied. The choice of a champagne or sherry is an additional twenty dollars per glass.

The Plaza Assorted Sandwiches - Photo by Ellen Easton© - All Rights Reserved


The Plaza Scones - Photo by Ellen Easton© - All Rights Reserved

Check out Plaze Scones - Pastry Chef Jasmina Bojic's Scones recipe


Devonshire Cream, Lemon Curd and Preserves - Photo by Ellen Easton© - All Rights Reserved

The Plaza Classic Sweets - Photo by Ellen Easton© - All Rights Reserved

The Plaza New York Sweets - Photo by Ellen Easton© - All Rights Reserved

There is indeed a very special Eloise Menu for the little one's priced at twenty-eight dollars. After all, one never knows when Eloise may pop in for tea and say "Tea, tea, tea, charge it, please!" 

Eloise in The Palm Court& - ©The Plaza - All Rights Reserved

While fondue has absolutely nothing what so-ever to with afternoon tea, as an alternative The Chocolate Tea is a fun, decadent and scrumptious indulgence for the child in all of us. Priced at fifty-five dollars per person, it is large enough to serve two people.

Chocolate Tea Fondue - Photo by Ellen Easton© - All Rights Reserved

Chocolate Tea Sweets - Photo by Ellen Easton© - All Rights Reserved

Afternoon tea in The Plaza's Palm Court is an attainable luxury!

Afternoon tea is an occasion to celebrate the timeless tradition of civility, good manners, and community. One would be pleased to discover the commonality we share with our international neighbors through our mutual love for the rituals that tea has to offer. As tea has been a welcome sign of hospitality, The Plaza, a landmark New York institution, welcomes all to the Palm Court.

Wishing you Happy
Ellen Easton - Tea Travels

The Plaza Hotel
Fifth Avenue and 59th Street
New York, NY

Telephone:  (212) 759-3000

Palm Court Afternoon Tea daily, from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Reservations required. No jeans, no T-shirts, sneakers, or flip-flops please.

Check out more of Ellen Easton's Tea Travels  articles and recipes.


Ellen Easton is a lifestyle industry leader, tea and etiquette authority, author of Afternoon Tea~ Tips, Terms and Traditions, A Tea Party Planner and Tea Travels™ For The Holidays (RED WAGON PRESS), as well as a hospitality, design and retail consultant, whose clients have included The Waldorf=Astoria, The Plaza, and Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon.

Easton’s family traces their tea roots to the early 1800s, when ancestors first introduced tea plants from India and China to the Colony of Ceylon, thus building one of the largest and best cultivated teas estates on the island.

REVA PAUL, an internationally acclaimed confectionery artist, hand decorated floral sugars and mints are available by special order for teas, weddings, and special events. Wholesale/Retail - Bulk & Gift boxed. All prices on request via RED WAGON PRESS (212) 722-7981.

 By Ellen Easton
72 pages of how to’s, 27 photos, history, etiquette and FAQ about afternoon tea, serving styles and more. “Tea is the luxury everyone can afford!™”

By Ellen Easton
64 pages, 21 color photos. A complete holiday menu includes 25 easy to prepare recipes; theme teas, decorating & gift ideas; invitation template and secret sources.

Each 5 x 7 paperback book fits into an A-7 envelope for easy mailing, great gift or party favor item. Each book is $20.00 post paid. Continental US Only. Final sale. (Wholesale and Fundraising accounts are welcome. Call for Special Prices) Please include your name, address and telephone number for shipping. Please make check or M.O. payable to: RED WAGON PRESS and send to: RED WAGON PRESS, 45 East 89th Street, Suite 20A, NYC, NY 10128-1256

TEA TRAVELS™, Wishing You Happy TEA TRAVELS!™, “Tea is the luxury everyone can afford!™” and Good $ense For $uccess™ are the trade marked property of Ellen Easton/RED WAGON PRESS.



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