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.
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.
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
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.
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
Palm Court Afternoon Tea daily, from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Check out more of Ellen Easton's Tea Travels™ articles and recipes.