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High Tea
March 18, 2009

Fitzpatrick Grand Central

High Tea

Celia Sin-Tien Cheng

High tea in Dublin ia a victory of heartiness over elegance.

This comes to mind last week at the Fitzpatrick Hotel in New York City. How had I not noticed this place before? Standing on East 44th Street, it’s a dark brick bit of Dublin slipped in among the steely surrounds of Grand Central Station. Inside, there’s a modest reception counter in a roomy lobby reminiscent of Ireland some 15 years ago.

On the day of my visit, we had the choice of a Special Tea for $15 or High Tea for $18*. For the small difference, we went whole hog, an apt expression since it would take a greedy sort to go to the last bite. We started with a substantial pot of hot tea, followed by a three-tiered platter boasting a daunting array of finger sandwiches and baked goods. Our cheese sandwiches had three layers of good Irish cheddar between rectangles of straightforward white bread. Our curried chicken was chopped, so we knew we were eating chicken. The cucumbers came with sour cream and dill. These finger sandwiches were really a handful and there were more of them than would allow for decent attention to the scones. As in the fancy Dublin hotel, these scones were not uniform. Irish bakers, it seems, have a strong inclination toward individuality. And raisins. We doused the scones, whatever the shape, with butter, whipped cream and strawberry jam. But we had to leave some in order to try the Irish cookies on the top tier. We stayed a long time, punctuating our nibblings with a few more pots of Barry’s Gold Medal Irish tea.

Rolaine Hochstein is an award-winning novelist and short story writer. She is a mentor at Girls Write Now and a member of The Writers Room. She wrote the above piece as a pinch-hitter for her husband, Mort Hochstein.

*Correction: Since the publication of this article, there is now only one afternoon tea menu for $18.

Fitzpatrick Grand Central

141 East 44th St
New York, NY
Midtown East