Having afternoon tea (sometimes also called high tea) can be a fun outing with kids whether you are celebrating a special occasion or looking for a memorable part of your visit to New York. The Russian Tea Room's Children's Tea offers a relatively affordable and fun way to experience this legendary restaurant right next to Carnegie Hall in Midtown.
The Russian Tea Room's Children's Tea includes a selection of hot teas or a hot chocolate that comes with both whipped cream and mini marshmallows, so, ironically, children can experience the tradition of afternoon tea without actually sipping on tea at all.
Although the Russian Tea Room's Children Tea includes the traditional tiered carousel of mini sandwiches followed by a plate of desserts, there are a few Russian touches to their afternoon tea that distinguish it from the typical English afternoon tea. The most major one is that tea is served in the Russian style—in a glass rather than a tea cup, without milk and with jam (the jam is served on the side and they also give you traditional sweeteners). Note that I did not have a child with me that ordered tea so I don't know if children are served tea in the same way. I'm guessing most people will never see the children's tea served with hot chocolate on offer.
The other special offering is that in addition to the typical cucumber and other mini sandwiches (fancy grilled cheese, pig in a blanket, tuna, egg salad, BLT), the plate includes two small peanut butter and jelly on blini, which is a Russian type of crepe or pancake. The kids enjoyed this little morsel, but I wouldn't say it made much of an impression.
In fact, that was my impression of afternoon tea at the Russian Tea Room overall. It was pleasant and you might enjoy the opulence of the room (nowhere near as impressive as the original Russian Tea Room) and all the wait staff who pull the table out to seat you in your bright red and gold booth, but it didn't have the specialness of some of the other fancy teas we've been to. On the other hand, the lack of frilliness made it possibly the best tea to take boys to, if you wanted to take boys to tea for some reason.
There is probably no better test for the child-friendliness of an afternoon tea spot than arriving with two seven year old boys. How did the waiters react when the boys were discussing (and demonstrating) important topics such as who could shove their whole fist in his mouth? I glanced over to just catch the waiters turning their backs so that nobody would notice them giggling. Yes, The Russian Tea Room is pretty child friendly, especially because, even though it is a tourist spot, it is usually fairly empty. The staff was very accommodating and friendly to the kids and slightly raised voices on occasion didn't seem to get much notice.
The Children's Tea is a pretty light meal, especially if your child does not like all the choices of sandwiches since they are only given one quarter of each type. Even though it is only a two course meal, the tea took us an hour and a half, which means there are fairly long gaps between courses, which might be difficult for younger children.
The Children's Tea at the Russian Tea Room is $35 per child. Adult tea menus start at $50. One thing I liked is that you can take your children for the tea, but you can order off the regular menu, if you prefer. I ordered a ($10) cup of tea and a salad ($18), because I was not in the mood for sweets. The kids had their special outing and I was able to sit with them, but saved myself the calories (and about $20).
You can have a kid's birthday party at the Russian Tea Room either by simply reserving a table for Children's Tea (you pay regular menu prices) or work out a package for a private room.
The Russian Tea Room
150 West 57th Street, Manhattan