Tea Time & Cous-Cous

After a stately jaunt through the Neue Galerie, which has an enjoyable exhibit on Josef Hoffmann, the Austrian architect (his textiles are cute, a more upscale version of Ikea), I went for tea at Alice's Tea Cup #2 (the first one is on the UWS). It is very similar to Alice No. 1 decor-wise. Cutesy Alice in Wonderland theme everywhere, including the bathroom, where flowers a la "we're painting the roses red" cover the ceiling, half white, half red, and one in the middle half painted. There's also a large looking glass hanging from a large ribbon that allow bathroom patrons to examine the miniature pictures of various scenes from Lewis Carroll's book.

I was starving at this point, so I decided to go all out and try numerous nibblies. The butternut squash soup had a great texture, not all the squash was completely pureed, which lent itself to the lovely warm taste. A little nutty, not too rich (sometimes squash soups are too thick and creamy, and I'd like to see anyone finish a bowl of mouth-coating soup like that), and served with a rosemary foccaccia. I also had half of a curried chicken salad sandwich that included tiny chopped up pieces of apple and sprinkled with raisins, which I've tried before, so I knew it would be satisfying.

Alice's scones are clearly the centerpiece around which this all revolves, which makes sense, since tea time in England is famous for its scones. They offer a myriad of different flavors every day. I ordered the eggnog chocolate chip, which had an interesting spicy kick that I've never encountered in a scone. It was a little drier than the other two scones K ordered. I would recommend going with the pumpkin or banana creme flavored ones which both had a glaze on top and were much more moist. All were served with a tiny pot of jam and creme; the jam was great, a little on the chunky side with lots of seeds and bursting with flavor.

I wish I could say more about the actual tea I drank, but I don't know enough about tea to properly appreciate it. They have a several page list of all the different teas they offer, but I would say to choose your tea according to what you order to eat, since you want them to complement each other.

The service was very attentive and considerate. Our waitress was really thoughtful, asking if we wanted the last bite of scone before she whisked the plate away. But if you go at the wrong time, Alice's is incredibly busy and I'm sure the wait is long. It's worth it to go once, just to try tea time like the English, and marvel at the tea list, bathroom and scones.

A couple of hours later, I was all ready for dinner at Cafe Mogador, a cozy Moroccan restaurant in the West Village. It's a dark, haphazard looking place, with a bar crowded to the nth degree. We had to wait about 45 minutes to be seated. Fortunately, there's this really cool little used bookstore next store, East Village Books. So we perused the shelves for awhile before attempting our next charge at the door (I found a $4 copy of Esquire's collection of fiction, a steal!).

Although the hostess was unfriendly and not particularly helpful, our waiter was genuinely nice and didn't bother us too much when it was clear we had been talking and not looking at the menu at all. I had a ginger martini was quite tasty and refreshing, really strong too.

I had the Moroccan fish tagine which was a meaty, filling dish of white fish, potatoes and carrots. Quite tasty and they give you a surprisingly spicy hot sauce on the side. The potatoes were perfectly cooked, not too hard and not too soft, scrumptious with the chili sauce. Now, I was never a fan of cous-cous, having had a bad run-in with a cold version that was gross and pebbly. But I see the problem now, cous-cous only tastes good to me when it's served hot and has sauce spooned over it.

I see why Mogador is so crowded, although after shelling over money for Alice's Tea Cup in the same day, I was reluctant to part with $17 for my tagine, good as it was. It's a fun place, though, and the bartender's pretty cute, so I would go back, preparing myself for the long wait first.

Alice's Tea Cup #2
156 E64th St (btw Lex & 3rd)

Cafe Mogador
101 St. Mark's Place (at 1st Ave)

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