We slack off in the summer time, but as it turns to the colder months here in the city, my friends and I always end up patronizing Tea and Sympathy at 108 Greenwich Ave in the West Village. Or perhaps I should say they end up patronizing us? Since we’re a trio of loud, ethnic women, you have to have a pretty strong threshold for annoyance if we’re in the vicinity. I still remember the time Tiff and I each tucked a bud from my iPod shuffle into one ear, singing (somewhat quietly) and chair dancing to “Snape vs. Snape,” by Ministry of Magic. It’s a miracle they didn’t boot us out. Actually, I could say that about a LOT of the places we go.
Owner Nicky Perry runs a tight –and small– ship; it’s always bustling with people and pleasant servers and the occasional adorable moppet helping bring tea cups to the table. Inevitably, there’s a clump of people by the door, waiting to get into the tiny shop, and you’ll often see people wander away, daunted by the prospect of standing out there in the cold. Not Tiff, Ty, and I… despite some whinging on my part since I decided to venture out today without a hat or scarf. The smell of English cheese and meat is just too good to resist. It’s like the Coldstone Creamery, where you suspect they spray the scent of waffle cone outside to lure you in. Cheese and bacon will do it to me every time.
In fact, that’s what I ordered: a side order of their gorgeously creamy mac and cheese and a side order of English back bacon. It doesn’t seem like a whole lot of food, but paired with a bottomless pot of Earl Grey and ginger cake with custard for dessert, it made for the perfect meal. I always want to try something new… the bangers and mash, the shepherd’s pie (is it made of real shepherds?) but always wind up sticking to my favorite dish. Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food and Tea and Sympathy makes it well. They bring out the individual dishes bubbling, barely crusted over with cheese, quick to burn your mouth. A dash of salt and pepper and you have cheesetastic heaven. The ginger cake was good, though I think I’ll have to revert back to my default, the sticky toffee pudding, the next time. Their Earl Grey proved stellar, much better than their English Breakfast and Assam. The flavor of bergamot was perfect.
As long as there’s no huge crowd waiting, the gang at Tea and Sympathy lets you linger as long as you’d like. Depending on the day, they’re a little brusque or a little harried, but overall, it’s become a place that’s familiar and always feels great to come back to. Especially on a chilly Sunday afternoon where you’re exhausted from your weekend shenanigans. Nothing says recovery like a pot of tea and some good English cooking (and, no, that’s not an oxymoron).