Baby, it’s cold outside! We’re so nearly finished with the Don’t be a Tourist in New York book, and while its contents must remain top secret, with temperatures plummeting so low, I felt we owed this little teaser to out New Yawkers. So come on in and warm up at New York’s coziest spots this weekend…
1. Narnia’s Secret Tea House
Discovering the Bellocq Tea Atelier is a bit like finding Narnia in this industrial part of Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It’s not a café in the sense that they only serve samples, but their team is passionate about making the world of tea “more accessible,” so ring the doorbell of that inconspicuous black door and you’ll step into the very definition of Zen to dip your toe into the world of teas. Exotic hanging plants, weathered walls lined with shelves of beautiful tea cases and antique measuring instruments catch the eye, while an aromatic feast of top-tier herbal artistry wafts around you. “We carry around 180 different [teas],” they told us, “[but] most people know us for our 30 signature blends which we create behind the wall in our factory. The rest of the teas are pure (unblended) and represent some of the finest and [rarest] teas in the world.” Which means you can ease your winter suffering on the pink velvet vintage couches with an exquisite cup of Marjorelle Mint, or High Mountain Oolong tea. There are so many blends to choose from but your personal tea guru will help you find the perfect brew. Try to stop yourself from curling up and taking a nap in what has to be the world’s most beautiful hidden tea house, and maybe take home some of their curated tea wares, honeys, or candles.
(104 West St, Brooklyn, NY 11222; +1 800-495-5416; open Wed & Thurs 12pm-6pm, Fri & Sat 12pm-7pm, Sun 12pm-5pm; Bellocq.com)
2. A Very British Little Tea Room
Oh, we do hope this one is still around by the time you’re reading this. Quaint as can be, afternoon tea as it should be at Tea & Sympathy– welcoming British accents, perfectly cut cucumber sandwiches, photographs of the Queen and her corgis on the walls– this place truly feels like a Maggie Thatcher-era time warp.
Even in London, places like this are hard to find these days. It’s been a Greenwich Village favourite for over two decades, but in late 2018, the owners were forced to start a crowdfunding page to raise money to keep it in business. “We have stood by and watched all of the local businesses who made the West Village what it is today lose to landlords and buyouts and profit losses. We are trying so hard not to be added to that list,” wrote the owner, Nicky Perry, who also runs an authentic fish & chip shop nextdoor, A Salt & Battery. We very much hope for all our sakes that they manage to stick around. Go for the tea & scones, stay for the Shepherd’s Pie and come back for the home away from home. (108 Greenwich Ave, Greenwich Village, NY 10011; +1 212-989-9735; Mon-Fri 11am-10.30pm, Sat 9.30am-10.30pm, Sun 9.30am-10pm; Teaandsympathy.com)
3. A Lumberjack’s Brooklyn Cabin
One of the rowhouses on Union Street is not like the others. The ground floor of the corner block has been converted into a wood-fronted cabin, complete with rustic Adirondack chairs and chopped firewood in the yard. Swing open the barn door of Black Mountain Wine House to find a roaring fireplace, a hearty list of gastropub dishes and wines that are almost all offered by the glass. Whatever the time of year, this cozy spot feels like an escape to rural Vermont.
(415 Union St, Brooklyn, NY 11231; +1 718-522-4340; Open daily 3pm-12am
4. Hidden Fondue Spot
On winter nights when you’re longing for gooey cheese comfort food, preferably served inside a European ski chalet, head to Café Select. The Swiss-themed café cooks up their staple “après ski fondue” in a hidden room at the back for a feast inside under the fairy lights.
(212 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012; +1 212-925-9322; Mon-Fri 8am-2am, Weekends 9am-2am)
5. Cinnamon Toast Brunch
All is swell at Allswell, a cozy cottage tavern on Bedford Avenue outfitted with warm wood interiors and inviting windows framed with fairy lights. More brunch spots should offer Cinnamon Toast on their menus, a simple but delicious old American breakfast staple, but they don’t, which is the number one reason you choose Allswell. The friendly service and wide choice of comfort food will lure you back for dinner on a cold winter’s night. (124 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211; +1 347-799-2743; Mon-Thurs 12pm-12am, Bar open until 2am on Friday, Sat 10am-2am, Sun 10am-11pm; Allswellnyc.com)