How far have you driven for a good teahouse? Hailing from Northern Westchester, I’ve traditionally gone to Kathleen’s Tea Room in Peekskill, or occasionally driven as far south as Tarrytown to pick up some of the great loose teas from Silver Tips. So, imagine my surprise to learn that a new option had opened this past year just over the Putnam border in Carmel – not more than ten minutes from my home.
Mahopac local, Gina Aurisicchio opened Florrie Kaye’s Tea Room and Gift Shop in May 2016 with the stated mission to “Transport you back in time to a place of elegance… For you to be treated like royalty, if only for a short time.” And while they’re not kidding, they still have quite a bit of fun. Guests are more than welcome to admire the period garments and bric-a-brac that adorn the walls, take photos with life-size standees of the royal family, and even adorn fancy, plumed hats crafted by Aurisicchio’s mother for high tea.
Ah, but the high tea. Starting at 3 p.m. daily, high tea consists of a pot of any of their 75-plus varieties of the Hudson Valley’s own Harney & Sons teas; tea sandwiches; English-style scones with butter, cream, and jam; assorted desserts such as fruit cup, French macarons, and chocolate ganache; and a complimentary glass of Prosseco ($29.50 per person).
Chef Michelle Cohane, a longtime family friend, ensures that the menu is both ever-changing and full of unexpected flair. A native of South Africa, her select curry blend brings such richness to the coronation chicken, it’s no wonder that it has become a house specialty. Other sandwich options include various paninis, melts, and egg or tuna salad (all of which can be made gluten-free), while build-your-own salad cards at every table ensure each meal is allergy friendly and customized perfectly to a patron’s liking. Soup-of-the-day, fruit cups, and cheese platters round out the small plates, while hearty favorites like bangers and mash (served on weekends), pork pies, and warm sausage rolls will satisfy more ravenous guests.
In addition to classic English scones, Florrie Kaye’s also offers American-style sweet scones with jam and cream, a flourless chocolate torte, meringue, sponge cake, and sticky toffee pudding. Chef Cohane’s pro tip for scones: “You always need butter and cream.” While Americans are used to larger, sweeter, moist scones like her banana-pecan masterpiece, traditional British scones are by design smaller and a bit drier. The butter will bring out the flavor in the dough itself, with cream and jam served to add the sweet components.
The gift shop offers small jewelry and many quaint home decor items, as well as tea, tea sets, and even small-batch, five-ingredient coconut hand soap, crafted by a local couple – both chemistry teachers at the nearby high school.
Their dining room and intimate tables out in the garden have made ideal settings for birthdays, anniversaries, bridal and baby showers, cooking classes with Chef Cohane, and even recently hosted Father Anthony Sorgie in a benefit to help rebuild the Benedictine Monastery and Basilica in Norcia, Italy following Earthquake damage. During my own visit, a local nursery school arrived for a special tea and story time, having raised money to donate to a local medical charity on behalf of Florrie Kaye’s.
Everyone is flocking to Florrie Kaye’s, and I really do mean everyone. While I was sitting with Aurisicchio discussing tea blends and her search for the perfect location, a first-time customer wandered in to ask for her and rave about how she just had to come for a visit after her friend had enjoyed her own.
“You’ve clearly become a sort of destination spot,” I told her. “What do you think is the farthest someone has come from?”
“Oh, let me show you!” and she excitedly hopped out of her seat. She produced a lovingly worn and warped guest register and, after a moment, pointed to a recent entry signed, “HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire.”
“Best tea house I’ve ever seen,” it reads, and far be it from me to disagree with Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant.
Florrie Kaye’s Tea Room
69 Gleneida Ave, Carmel
Hours: Tues-Sun 11 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Closed Mondays
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