Bosie Tea Parlor

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A great photo, I know.

My love for all things English stems back to when I was a child and obsessed with children's classics like "The Secret Garden" and "The Little Princess", among others. In fact, I still have a cassette tape of me reading "The Secret Garden" aloud in a British accent at the age of 7 or 8. Embarrassing.

I've been to Alice's Tea Cup numerous times and even tried the afternoon tea platter once before learning that I should never again commit such a crime at Alice's. The scones (pumpkin, especially) and tea are heavenly, but the cookies (biscuits), tea cakes and other sweet accoutrements are (or were) terribly subpar. My friend learned about Bosie Tea Parlor (10 Morton Street, West Village) and after scouring Yelp reviews, I was talked into handing over a pretty penny for its afternoon tea set.

Immediately I noticed that Bosie had a much more traditional, serious atmosphere than Alice's. The front of the shop had a cafe-like setup, while there were two fancier seat settings towards the back, facing a bookshelf of tea-related reads.

After settling down in the comfy sofa chairs towards the back, we ordered the afternoon tea set. The set comes with scones, tea cakes, French macarons, tea sandwiches and a pot of tea. Because there were two of us, we were given a choice of two pots of tea, 3 sandwiches and 4 French macarons.

I went with the Almond Cookie rooibos tea while my friend went with something unpronounceable. My tea was pretty perfect: with sugar and milk, it was light and sweet and very much reminiscent of a an almond cookie. Without milk, it had a pleasant honey-like flavor. My friend's tea was multidimensional: initially medicinal, I found it to be a very strong black tea with spicy afternotes. With milk, it mellowed out but still had spicy tones to it, which I liked.

As a life-long Anglophile, I'd long wanted to try a traditional tea sandwich -- cucumber and crustless white bread with some sort of butter spread. I even tried making my own as a child and wasn't impressed. Bosie put its own spin on these cucumber sandwiches (and probably for good reason, because they sound pretty tasteless no matter how you look at it) by adding what appeared to be dill and a light cream cheese. It was tasty, but unfortunately the white bread was a tad dry. We also opted for the egg salad sandwich, which was fine, and the curried chicken salad sandwich was my favorite. The curry flavor was very prominent but not overwhelming, and the wheat bread was not dry.

Atop the tea platter were four triangles of American scones. It was accompanied by clotted cream and homemade raspberry preserves. I'm used to English scones (those round, moist things Americans tend to call "biscuits") and the only clotted cream I'd ever had has been from Alice's Tea Cup. Alice's provides a really delicious clotted cream -- fluffy, like a richer whipped cream, and just a touch sweet. Truth be told, I'm not sure anyone's clotted cream will ever match Alice's. Bosie's had a much denser texture -- one close to butter, and was not noticeably sweet. I could have done without the clotted cream. But the raspberry preserve was really yummy.

The scones, while not soft or moist, were delicious in their own right. They were cookie-like and very, very buttery. They tasted like the best cookies from my childhood: a mix of Danish butter cookies and Pepperidge Farm's Chessmen cookies. They were good both with and without the preserves.

We saved the sweetest for last. We'd chosen a raspberry, a Darjeeling tea, a matcha green tea and a salted caramel macaron. After some deliberation (but not much), we determined that the Darjeeling was our favorite (a very authentic but subtle tea flavor), then the salted caramel (toffee-like with an almost bitter aftertaste), the raspberry (the texture was a little "suspect," like a half-baked brownie) and the matcha green tea which I did not like at all. It didn't taste like green tea to me at all, but some sort of overly-sweet vanilla concoction. We found all the macarons to be too sweet.

Tea cakes and macarons

By the time we got to the tea cakes, which were akin to moist mini-pound cakes, I'd pretty much had my fill of sweets. We went for the lemon first, which had a nice flavor to it. Then we tried the matcha green tea which I also did not care for -- it was dry and crumbly, though it more closely resembled green tea in flavor than its macaron counterpart. The dark chocolate was fine -- it seemed chocolate chips and candied orange rind had been baked into it. I found it to be too sticky and sweet. The last was the vanilla tea cake, which may have been my favorite. Vanilla bean specks were visible and "taste-able", giving it a slight crunch. The flavor was good and the cake wasn't too sticky nor was it too dry.

Our server Nora was pretty much perfect -- she was very informative and attentive, but not annoyingly so. I'd definitely return for tea at Bosie Tea Parlor, though probably not for the afternoon tea platter. On the way out, the tarts looked appetizing and I haven't even made a smidgen of a dent in Bosie's tea list, so I will likely be back.

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