Best Tea and Scones - 2002
Rotunda at Neiman Marcus
At least half of the high tea experience has to do with the surrounding mood and milieu, and you can't get much more white-glove proper than the Rotunda atop the Neiman Marcus department store. Starched linens and polished silver gleam in the afternoon sunshine. The dazzling stained-glass dome above the dining room was installed in 1909 when the building was erected; in 1981 its 26,000 panes were dismantled, cleaned, and meticulously restored. Seated in one of the luxurious booths or at a window-side table looking out over Union Square, the wannabe Brit can't help but feel positively pedigreed. The meal itself is dainty and delicious in the classic tradition: miniature tarts, soft finger sandwiches, crumbly raisin scones with lemon curd, and clotted cream and a variety of house-made confections, impeccably served on a two-tiered silver tray. The selection of loose-leaf teas includes old favorites like Earl Grey and English Breakfast, as well as the more intriguing jasmine pearl and mint chrysanthemum. Offered daily from 2:30 to 5 p.m.