Philadelphia: tea and cake
March 10, 2010 9:07 PM   Subscribe

Where is the finest place for late afternoon tea and cake in Philadelphia? Also dinner.

I'm going to Philadelphia soon. Never been before. While there, I will be meeting someone for tea and cake in the late afternoon. I would like it to be somewhere special.

Looking at previous questions has given me some ideas. Capogiro sounds great for ice cream; the Franklin Fountain and the Famous 4th St Deli also get MetaFilter approval. But what about tea, and cake? For cake, I mean something that wouldn't be ashamed of itself in Vienna or Paris. For tea, I'd like good leaf tea served in the sort of teapot that, if you had it at home, would only come out on special occasions.

This is not to diminish other ways of serving tea, or other kinds of dessert. I just seem to have a very clear picture in my head of what I'm looking for on this occasion. I don't mind if it's expensive: afternoon tea for two is unlikely to be a bank-breaker in the way that an evening meal could be.

Dinner is also a possibility, in fact. There are recent previous threads about restaurants, but you might want to add more... For dinner I'd prefer somewhere good but relaxed, and where you don't need an annual income over $150,000 to be able to consider the à la carte--that is, entrées in the $15-25 range rather than $80 burgers.

Your suggestions welcome!
posted by lapsangsouchong to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Four Seasons offers afternoon tea. XIX offers limited afternoon tea. Both, I hear, are very elegant and are downtown. For dinner, you might try Matyson. It's a downtown BYOB, a bit high in your price range, but I would highly recommend it. If you like fish, visit Little Fish in South Philly. Also highly recommended.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:53 PM on March 10, 2010

I love Remedy Tea. They are not painfully upscale but rather a clean and modern tea shop with an art gallery to boot. I adore their tea and their tea lattes are unique (and delicious!). They also serve some incredible cupcakes from Flying Monkey, located in the historical and hectic Redding Terminal Market. Some of the best cupcakes in town.
posted by nursegracer at 9:56 PM on March 10, 2010

Random Tea Room and Curiosity Shop

Then there are like six million restaurants within walking distance that you could go to for dinner. This place is more on the grungy bohemian artist end of the Parisian tea room spectrum, though.
posted by The Straightener at 5:43 AM on March 11, 2010

Rouge is a fantastic place for dinner. chic but relaxed, and if it's warmer you can sit outside, right across from rittenhouse square park. Also, Buddhakan on chestnut street is fantastic, if you go there ask for Micheal D. as a server - best in town.
posted by assasinatdbeauty at 6:32 AM on March 11, 2010

$15-25 entrees is a little lower than most of the places that are the obvious recommendations for great mid-priced restaurants. Not impossible, but if you're okay with entrees that are more like $22-$35 you've got a much larger pool from which to draw.

Luckily, we have this phenomenal BYO scene, so you can bring your own wine instead of paying restaurant markup in some of the finest restaurants in town. Unluckily, we've got this crazy state-controlled alcohol thing, so the selection in our state stores is not going to have the range that you might expect.

So, how do you feel about BYO? And where are you staying?
posted by desuetude at 6:36 AM on March 11, 2010

I love Remedy Tea. They are not painfully upscale but rather a clean and modern tea shop with an art gallery to boot. I adore their tea and their tea lattes are unique (and delicious!).

Sadly, Remedy closed a while ago. I believe they're doing tea selection and online retailing, but I don't think they've reopened a physical shop.

I'm also not sure that House of Tea actually serves tea rather than just selling it loose, but it's worth a look.

For reasonably priced, good BYO restaurants, consider Mercato at Spruce and Camac, L'Oca at Corinthian and Fairmount, and the aforementioned Matyson and Little Fish.
posted by The Michael The at 6:43 AM on March 11, 2010

Best answer: The Mary Cassatt Tearoom at The Rittenhouse Hotel is the only place to go for high tea in Philadelphia.
posted by greekphilosophy at 8:13 AM on March 11, 2010

Best answer: My current favorite restaurants, i.e. where we go for a date night, to show off our city to friends, etc. I skew toward South Philly, because that's where I live. Some are BYO, some are not, some are a little out of your price range. If something intrigues you here, let me know and I'll give you more feedback/details.

KooZeeDoo - Northern Liberties, Portuguese
Bibou - Bella Vista, French
Fond - Passyunk, upscale American/European
Cochon - Bella Vista, country French
Kanella - Wash Square West, Greek
Southwark - Queen Village, revived American
Amada - Old City, Spanish tapas
Mr. Martino's - Passyunk, classic Italian
Mémé - Rittenhouse, American
Tinto - Rittenhouse, Basque-inspired tapas
Lolita – Wash Square West, Latin-inspired
Buglambilas - South Street, upscaled Mexican
Le Virtu - Passyunk, Italian
Oyster House - Rittenhouse, seafood
posted by desuetude at 8:48 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Lolita – Wash Square West, Latin-inspired

This place is fun to visit in the summertime. Bring a bottle of tequila and they'll make fresh-fruit margaritas for you.

If you like Mexican, check out South Philly's Los Caballitos. The food and drinks are incredible, perhaps among the best Mexican in the city.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:48 PM on March 11, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks all--plenty to be going on with on this trip. Hopefully I'll get to come back in the future and check more than one of these out!
posted by lapsangsouchong at 9:47 PM on March 12, 2010

Response by poster: So in the end it was dinner, not tea, and we went to Tinto, from desuetude's list. Excellent food--I'd go there again. And if I find myself in Philadelphia again anytime soon, I'll have other places to try, too, starting with the Mary Cassatt Tearoom.

Thanks again for all your suggestions!
posted by lapsangsouchong at 4:43 PM on March 17, 2010

Yay! So glad you liked it.
posted by desuetude at 7:14 PM on March 17, 2010

Response by poster: Late update: I never made it to the Mary Cassatt Tearoom, but in November my mum did (following this recommendation) and said it was wonderful.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 1:37 PM on January 19, 2011

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