Alice’s Tea Cup is the cuttest tea place on the Upper East Side that it’s been on our list for ages. It is, of course, completely based on Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. They have three locations, Chapter I, II, and III. We went toChapter III, located on 81st street and 3rd avenue. We had just had lunch, so wewere looking for a quick tea and some desert. We were very excited to try it, but ended up fairly disappointed… For starters, the hostess took about 15 minutes todirect us to our table. They had a line for takeout, but about two tables ready for us. People just kept cluttering at the door, but they did not seem to mind. We saw a couple give up in front of us and were fairly surprised by how poorly they dealt with the number of customers, although the restaurant still had a couple of empty tables.
The decor is really cute, with several drawings of Alice in Wonderland made by little kids who visited the place. Right by the entrance there is a big counter where you can order scones, cakes and coffee to go. There are mini lights decorating the shelfs with the tea, which cheers up the place. The walls are painted with Alice in Wonderland motifs. I specially loved the drawing of the table with the “drink me” bottle.
When we finally sat down, the waitress took an extra 10 minutes to take our order. We literally had to raise our hands and waive so they would see us. At least she seemed nice and apologized for the delay. By this point, our hopes of a quick tea had vanished.
The main attribute of their menu is undoubtedly their amazing selection of tea. The tea list spreads through several pages with blends of all kinds: [can you name more creative blends? green, white, black, etc]. It sure has something for every taste and the selection process can take quite some time. The food menu was also more thorough than we expected with salads, soups, sandwiches, cakes, pies and other sweets. The couple next to us ordered what seemed like the big hit there, a three tier arrangement of bites. They come with sandwiches, cookies, scones, and, of course, a pot of tea. The problem with the three tier tea party mix is that the order is per person and even the smallest size seemed to be too much food. It doesn’t really make sense to order the largest (Jabberwocky “famished?”), for $60,given that you would have to pay an extra $20 to share. The only real options would be the small one (The Nibble “a ‘lil bit hungry?” $25), good for one; and the medium (The Mad Hatter “hungry?” $37), which could be shared for an extra $8. We did not try them, but the scones sure looked to be as good as people say. They also have mouthwatering options for breakfast and brunch. Crepes, eggs and pancakes, with different options of mixers.
We ordered some white tea with rose petals and a warm chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream ($10). It supposedly takes about 10 minutes to bake, but it actually took them about 20. It was really good, with the traditional but unbeatable combination of warm chocolate fudge and vanilla ice cream. A couple of berries on the side complemented the desert. We sure wish we had more time to properly enjoy it, but we were already late and almost had to swallow it without much taste. The banana cake also seemed like a big hit, but portions are pretty big so we decided to share one cake.
Maybe better luck awaits us at one of the other chapters… The cute décor and the variety of teas makes it a warming destination for a cold weekend afternoon, as long as your main concern is just to kill time.
- Environment: ****
- Service: *
- Food: ***
- Presentation: **
- Rating: ***
220 E 81st St