Thursday, May 1, 2008

Eat Out Awards: Sanctuary T

Sanctuary T is part restaurant, part bar, and part tearoom.

A sandwich board outside claims "Our tea is good enough to eat," and they back it up by integrating tea into their foods in a variety of ways, some innovative (black cod slow-cooked in lychee black tea) and some classic (chai ice cream).

Their cocktails (which I mentioned in a recent post on tea lectures at the Coffee and Tea Festival) are not quite up to par with those by my personal bar idol Jeff Hollinger nor as, ahem, "original" as those at PDT (as much as I adore a few drinks on PDT's menu, I'll pass on the bacon-infused bourbon old fashioned and the buttered popcorn rum, thanks). However, they ARE damn good drinks that take on the challenge of artfully blending sweet, savory, and sour, and put a fresh twist on classics like the gin gimlet (this time with Earl Grey) and the margarita (tangerine green tea, passion fruit, Contreau, and tequila in a martini glass rimmed with crushed pink peppercorns).

The tea menu includes a variety of flavored and unflavored teas, as well as tisanes and specialty tea drinks like matcha lattes. I think it could use more unflavored teas, but, then again, I think that about most tea menus. Oh, and it doesn't hurt that the staff knows their products (which is, alarmingly, becoming a rarity in the rapidly-evolving and growing tea world!).

The atmosphere completes the Sanctuary T experience--it is a successful blend of modern and eco-chic, with rich wood tones, chocolate brown, touches of silver and sparkle, and deep red highlights.

Aside from nit-picky grievances (e.g.,the tea menu said "Non-caffeinated" when it should say "Caffeine-Free".... If you'd like clarification on that point, read my article on caffeine and tea.), my only complaints are the music (oh, the sigh of relief when it changed from light jazz to Motown halfway though my visit) and the price (it seemed that a number of items were just enough over the appropriate price for you to notice that you are overpaying). Overall, I'd say that it is a fantastic new addition to the NYC tea world... and it would seem that the weeknight crowd I saw there would agree with me. I'm sure that I, for one, will be back again soon.

Sanctuary T
337B West Broadway, between Grand and Broome
Monday-Saturday 10AM-11:30PM, Sunday 10AM-6PM

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