Wednesday, December 21, 2011

GF Afternoon Tea at the Plaza

Sandy and Eloise at the Plaza

I have to admit, I didn't read the Eloise books as a child, but I did read them to my daughter and so I have a special fondness for the Plaza Hotel.  When I found out that the Plaza can do a GF afternoon tea, I was ecstatic.  That's one for the Bucket List!

You must get a reservation as far in advance as possible.  A month out, I was only able to get a 4:45 seating.  It seemed like a very odd time to eat, but in fact, in worked out perfectly for a theater day.  We were done around 6 and took some time to shop before walking over to the theater for a 7 pm performance.  Perfect!

Eloise has made her distinctive mark on this fancy hotel.  In the middle of the gilded lobby stands an enormous pink Christmas tree decorated by "Eloise" with some help from her "friend" fashion-designer Betsey Johnson.

Pink Christmas Tree at the Plaza in NYC
The Palm Court stands in the middle of the hotel, with beautifully ornate scroll work and a dazzling stained glass ceiling.  I assume that during the rest of the year it is filled with Ladies Who Lunch and Celebrities, but at Christmas, it is filled with little girls.  Dozens of beautifully dressed little girls, laden with bags from American Girl Doll store and FAO Schwartz, all thrilled to get their picture taken by the pink Christmas tree and next to the portrait of Eloise.  (There is a Santa downstairs as well, for the picture-taking trifecta.)

We were warned that the gluten free version of afternoon tea would take extra time to prepare because it needed to be made fresh.  Fine by me, I was happy to bask in the opulence of the Palm Court, and watch pretty little girls ooh and ahh as they went by.  It did take about 25 minutes from the time we ordered to the time they brought out our food, but they brought the tea out quickly, so we sipped our tea while we waited.

If you are ordering off the Afternoon Tea menu and you are gluten free, the key thing is to decide which types of sandwiches you want.  The desserts they provide will be the same regardless of which meal you pick, and the scones are substituted with fruit.  I ordered the New Yorker, which comes with the following sandwiches:

Cucumber, Radish, Green Herbs
Smoked Salmon, Endive
Roquefort, Shaved Red Grapes, Watercress
Prosciutto, Mozzarella, Pesto
Roast Beef with Horseradish

These were little open-faced sandwiches on gluten-free toast.

Tea Sandwiches

Dessert plate

They gave me a generous quantity of fruit to substitute for the scones.

Everything was delicious and I loved the whole experience.


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