I made the most remarkable discovery today: Tea & Sympathy. Now, I realize that this marvelous English joint is neither new nor newly-discovered, but I had never taken the time to scope out the scene before today. Let me tell you, as a lover of all things British and a possessor of a UK passport myself, I was overjoyed to find a food & goods spot entirely devoted to the often over-looked and easily criticized cuisine of England.
The menu reads like a verifiable laundry list of English classics: bangers & mash, baked beans on toast, afternoon tea with scones and clotted cream, cucumber & cream cheese finger sandwiches, shepherd’s pie, scotch egg, steak & guinness pie, and, for Sunday dinner, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. The line outside on weekends and the quality of the food itself speaks volumes to the sheer variety of scrumptious dishes ‘fresh off the boat.’ Loaded with butter and cream, each dish defines delicious decadence and evokes extreme nostalgia for tea on the Thames and potted pies at supper time.
The restaurant mimics a frilly English marm’s kitchen with delicate floral details and just as delicate tea sets. Hot and cramped, call ahead to scope out the scene or show up early to nab a window-front table. The staff is entirely chipper Brits with charming accents and equally charming attitudes.
The adjoining store (where you also pick up take-out orders) was the most magical part of it all. Modeled after an old country store, the heavy wooden shelves are fully stocked with imported English goodies: Jelly Babies, Heinz beans, mushy peas, Walker’s shortbreads, Sarson’s malt vinegar, Branston pickle, and other hard-to-find-States side victuals. They also sell charming tea sets, English knick knacks, and Union Jack-themed items.
Tea & Sympathy offers something different from anything else in the Village – it steers clear of popular French bistro fare, of New York deli/diner offerings, of sushi. It is as authentic as you can get on this side of the Atlantic, and it’s mightily refreshing. Check out the restaurant for a tea excursion or the shop for unique holiday gifts!