shelves-of-teawareIf you’re yearning for a British fix, before you book that weekend discount ticket to London, try a quick trip to Greenwich Street to see whether that can satisfy your thirst for some authentic English tea. Here, an entrepreneurial English lady by the name of Nicky has built a triad of contiguous shops all based on strongly British themes.

From right to left as you stand before them, you have Tea & Sympathy, Carry on Tea & Sympathy and A Salt & Battery. Stepping into Tea & Sympathy feels like a complete escape from Manhattan.  The warm and intimate setting with tables and benches set close together, combined with customers’ friendly chatter and the aroma of home-cooked food and tea may make you alter your accent just a bit when a waitress approaches you with her English greeting.  The menu is all-British – from Welsh Rarebit and Shepherd’s Pie to Sticky Toffee Pudding.  It’s an easy place to decompress and make new friends.  After an hour (or two!) at Tea & Sympathy, it’s easier to understand Britannia’s addiction to tea.  Hint: It’s not just about the tea.

Salt&BatterySister store Carry on Tea & Sympathy has English everything – from teapots to PG Tips to biscuits and tea tins with the double-decker red buses – as well as a staff that you’ll want to come back to.

I was actually introduced to the first two through A Salt & Battery, which a friend had recommended when I said I wanted to take about ten Juilliard students out for dinner.  We literally inhabited the whole shop, and devoured all kinds of fried fish and seafood – haddock, sole, and shrimp – alongside yummy chips, onion rings, and battered beets.  No tea for dinner, however – but this place has Boddington’s and Strongbow Cider, so we were pretty happy.  They wouldn’t let us leave without sharing some complimentary fried Mars bars.

Nicky has a bigger-than-life personality.  Her customers (especially those with dogs) are made to feel like royalty.  You’ll leave her shops believing that she’s royalty, and if there’s any doubt, just check out the life-sized portrait in Carry on Tea & Sympathy!