I hardly know a mom who doesn’t have a soft spot for the Madeline books of her childhood. Me included. It just seemed so romantic to live in Paris and walk to school every day wearing a yellow hat that looked like a boat.
Well save yourself the airfare to Europe–Madeline actually lives on in New York, through the gorgeous original murals of illustrator Ludwig Bemelmans in a small art deco bar in the Carlyle Hotel.
For ages Bemelmans Bar has been a place you could visit with the kids, maybe grab an overpriced Shirley Temple from bartender Tommy Rowles, but now they’re stepping it up a notch with an actual Madeline Tea for families.
NYC visitors this holiday take note: It’s magical.
Two seatings each Saturday give you access to what’s more like a Madeline birthday party than a tea. The buffet selection at lunch ranges from dainty tea sandwiches and salads to chafing dishes loaded with chicken fingers and quesadillas–a necessity family dining evil in this day and age, I suppose. But the highlight, besides the fabulous room, is the entertainment.
The engaging Tina deVaron sure has a way with kids. She plays piano (wo)man for a room of girls in fancy dresses (along with some boys too), taking two hours worth of requests for Twinkle Twinkle and songs traditionally sung by Julie Andrews. My girls hardly sat in the big, cushy chairs long enough to eat their crusts-off PB&J, what with all the opportunities for singing and dancing with new friends around the ivories.
The price for such NYC fabulosity: A mere $45 a person, $20 for kids under three. Tack it onto your already expensive NYC holiday weekend after a day at FAO Schwartz or before an afternoon at the Met, and don’t forget your camera.
Expensive? Absolutely. Maybe even too expensive. But as the Atlanta mothers of six year-olds seated next to me whispered, “We have no idea how we’re going to top this now. Our girls are in heaven.” -Liz
Make reservations for the Madeline Tea at Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle Hotel, 35 E 76 St between 5th and Madison. Reservations: 212-744-1600 Saturdays 10:30, 12:30 through December. OR just stop in anytime for a soda and gawk at the room next time you’re uptown. Your kids will love it.