On a sunny winter day several months ago, I met up with my friend Queenie for tea in my neighborhood. The onslaught of new construction and gentrification continues in Williamsburg, so the views of glorious open skies have unfortunately given way to towers of glass, steel and brick. Not only are there residential buildings rising up from once desolate streets but plenty of hotels have sprung up as well.
And the Williamsburg Hotel is the first one to actually serve afternoon tea (or what they call “high tea” on their menu, though it’s not at all).
The hotel bar and lobby is beneath street level and one can enter via sweeping stairs descending from the street or through a slender door in the side of the building. The space is cavernous and feels airy when light pours through the two-story windows on a sunny day.
So, onto the food. I had been running around doing errands before meeting Queenie, who was already in the area attending a food fair of sorts. That meant one of us was hungry and the other not. We ended up ordering one “Brooklyn High Tea” to share, and an additional pot of tea for her.
The tea menu itself was a limited selection, sourced from a local tea shop called Tea Dealers. We both ordered the Wild Pear tisane from Korea and it turned out the supplier was actually sitting at the bar. He came over and there was a brief discussion on the teas, which was interesting and nice. The tea was pretty good, made with wild pears and it reminded me a lot of a soup my mother makes using apples or Asian pears.
As for the food itself, it was a varied selection of baked goods and one or two savories. We weren’t able to match everything on our plates to the descriptions on the menu but it was close enough. Alas that the savories all contained cheese, which I dislike very much. It was a little disappointing for me, because I really wanted more savories and there were far too many sweets for me to enjoy it all. Serving butter or clotted cream with the scone might have helped a bit too but in the end, we took nibbles off a lot of the pastries because it was just far too much for even two of us to enjoy. I left wanting savory foods and ended up with some delicious Indonesian food later that day to sate my appetite.
The space was really nice and if one is really into sweets, then this tea is probably good. I found out one of my other friends had visited recently (admittedly through a press engagement) and she enjoyed the food so perhaps it had improved since my own visit. In the meantime, I’ll continue to wish for Brooklyn to offer an afternoon tea as great as those found in Manhattan.