In the mood for some hot tea and tasty desserts on a brisk winter day, I headed straight for Cafe Bene in Great Neck Plaza. However, I stopped in my tracks when I saw the covered windows and the closing sign. With a sinking heart, I surveyed my surroundings to find somewhere else to eat. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw that a new restaurant had recently opened up. My eyes quickly scanned the purple lettering proclaiming it as the “Royal Tea House” and settled upon the beckoning “free WiFi” sign. Needing no more convincing, I hurried across the street, entered, and was enveloped by the warmth of the building.
The Royal Tea House opened its doors on Feb. 15, 2017, shortly after Cafe Bene closed theirs. The general aesthetic of the establishment is elegant and beautiful, with a moss-covered pillar in the center of the room complete with decorative butterflies. The area is dimly lit with hanging lights that surround the pillar, casting a soft yellow glow in the room. With a helpful and efficient wait staff, you will be seated quickly at one of the plush blue armchairs in the teahouse. Each table is adorned with a white tablecloth, china tableware, and a rose centerpiece. Music plays softly in the background, and the lull of people talking and silverware clinking creates a soothing atmosphere.
The menu has much to offer, with a strong rose theme running through the pages. From rose milk teas to a rose ice cream (a unique item on the menu), the beautiful flowers are incorporated into many dishes. The food itself is fancy, with a variety of seafood, steaks, and many elegant options for dessert. The prices are mid ranged, with the teas ranging from six to eight dollars, desserts ranging from six to fifteen dollars, and the entrees ranging anywhere from ten to just over thirty dollars. If you need a recommendation, the wait staff is always standing by, willing to help and eager to offer one. After your order is placed, however, the waiting begins.
The food could take around twenty to thirty minutes to get out of the kitchen; however, this is because almost everything is made in-house — the exceptions being the tiramisu, New York cheesecake, and the mango mousse. Once the food arrives, though, everything is worth it. I tried the chocolate lava cake served with rose ice cream as recommended by my waitress, and I was very satisfied with it. As I cut into the cake, the melted chocolate oozed out and onto the plate, and the hot chocolate cake paired with the cold ice cream hit the spot.
The tea, the main star of the show, was also exquisite. You have the option of hot or cold tea, and sugar and milk on the side. The tea comes in its own teapot, with its own little fire if you order the tea hot. The wait staff do an excellent job tending to the flame and also checking regularly to make sure the teapot is not empty. I ordered the royal milk tea, which blended the milk, herbal tea, and sugar perfectly. After taking my first sip, I couldn’t stop myself from draining the contents.
Overall, I had a wonderful time at the Royal Tea House. It had a comforting atmosphere with helpful staff and wonderful food. However, the elegance and atmosphere of the place certainly isn’t for everyone, nor are the slightly pricier items. Despite this, I think that it is a nice, relaxing experience that everyone should have at least once. Whether it be with a couple of friends or with family, I highly recommend checking out the new Royal Tea House.