If the water tower bar and pink rickshaw outside The Williamsburg Hotel aren’t enough to make you feel like you’ve wandered into the Grand Budapest, the brand new property is pulling out another show-stopper: afternoon tea, Brooklyn style. Forget what you know about white gloves and finger sandwiches. (Though you can nibble on a Brie tartine with cucumbers fermented in bran starter from rockstar baker Adam Leonti, Brooklyn Bread Lab baker who mills his own flour in Bushwick.) This is Brooklyn cool at its finest: teal velvet booths and a gold bar where teapots share the limelight with craft whiskies. “We wanted to pare the high tea tradition down to something easygoing and modern,” Stefen Ramirez of Tea Dealers tells me over a pot of Darjeeling and spelt nougat that hovers somewhere between meringue and marshmallow.
Ramirez and Leonti have created a menu for every level of commitment: you can go all out with tiers of inventive sweets and savories, from black pepper and mascarpone quiche to tiny sweet potato doughnuts. (Leonti’s passionate about letting grains’ natural vitamins and minerals shine via his old-school milling techniques.) Guests can also select from an a la carte list of pastries and rare teas like a bright Karigane green from Nara, Japan, or wild pear tisane culled from the forests of Hadong, South Korea. “We needed this in Williamsburg,” Ramirez continues. “It’s a place for out-of-towners and locals alike to escape the cares of the world for a while and nourish themselves with something beautiful.” Ramirez and Leonti will continue collaborating on a menu for the hotel’s highly anticipated restaurant, Harvey, which promises more feel-good fare, spotlighting local veggies and seafood alongside premium tea from some of the world’s most far-flung locations.