Not A Fan Of “No Reservations”–But This Place Is Worth It

unnamed-7I’m not a huge fan of restaurants that don’t take reservations, and I’m even less of a fan when there’s a 1.5 hour wait.


In the cold.

unnamed-5But Tea & Sympathy has been on my afternoon tea radar for sometime, and seeing as how we blocked off the entire Saturday afternoon for the small pleasures of scones and British accents, we wo-manned up and stuck out the wait (this was a few weeks ago, on one of those 17 degree days…pity party, table of 3 please!)

Not only does the cafe not take rezzies, they also don’t have a proper list where they write your name down in order of appearance…it’s all done on the honor system of who-got-here-first, which can be a bit confusing when there’s a large crowd of people milling outside the cafe.  And every time someone would ask how long the wait was the standard response was “30-45 minutes” (even after we had been standing there over an hour.)

Oh! And your entire party MUST be present when they finally do get around to calling your name, or else they skip right on over to the next group. Important to know that you can’t just leave one person there to hold the spot while the rest of the group window shops the West Village, as was my original idea;-)

unnamed-6With all these rules that go directly against my Type-A personality, I was prepared to dislike Tea & Sympathy, I really was.  Once we finally were called in, fingers full of frostbite, tummies a’ grumbling, I was muttering “this better be the best scone I’ve ever put in my mouth after that nonsense”–(what can I say?  NYC has robbed me of my patience.)

Now–I can’t say for sure if I was so cold and ravished by the time we sat down that anything would have tasted like the best scone ever, or if it really was the best scone + clotted cream + jam ever, but it was a really enjoyable tea.  (Tea turned dinner at this point–and the veggie pie was really hearty and delicious, too!)

unnamed-2 unnamed-4 unnamed-3I will for sure be returning to Tea & Sympathy…only from here on out I’ll make it a “70+ degree day when I have nothing but time” stop.

Do you frequent places that don’t take reservations, and if so, what’s the longest you’re willing to wait?  Let’s chat in the comments below!


  • Tamara says:

    Mm…look at that comfort food!
    I admit I’m the same way about waiting for food, especially in this weather, although that wasn’t a problem in California when we wanted a particularly good breakfast in San Francisco.

    • Used York City says:

      Yeah, I feel like if it’s a beautiful day out, standing around outside wouldn’t be such an arduous ordeal–we just need some of that Cali weather to make its way East:-)

  • Lydia says:

    I haaate places that make you wait for so long, but I love Tea & Sympathy! I hope you sipped your tea with your pinky up. Next time, try going on a weekday evening – I hate to say it after everything you went through (!), but there’s no queue in the week.

    • Used York City says:

      Thanks for the tip, Lydia! We went smack in the middle of the day (3pm!) on a Saturday, so that’s probably what accounted for the crazy wait. Look forward to getting back during the week!;-)

  • Sarah says:

    This is rapidly growing to be one of my biggest NYC pet peeves. There are so many places I want to try but am turned off by the “no reservations” rule. The longest I stood in line was not for was not actually for a restaurant but for the cronut at Dominique Ansel’s bakery in SoHo, once when I first moved here because I didn’t have a job yet and had nothing better to do at 7 a.m. on a Wednesday (besides sleep), and once when my Mom was coming to visit because she HAD to have the cronut. It was freezing rain that day and I stood out there for over an hour, wet and cold, but at least I was listening to Serial 😉

    • Used York City says:

      Serial for the WIN! And I agree–unless I have time to stand around (and am NOT wearing heels, or forget it), I refuse to do the no reservation thing–half the time the “wait time” they quote is wrong, because people linger at tables long after the bill is paid (and rightfully so!), so you end up standing at the bar spending way more on cocktails than you would have.

  • Abby says:

    Bravo to you for waiting that long. I am a bit too fussy and prefer places that take reservations, patience is certainly not my strong point especially when it comes to good food.

    XoXo One Stiletto At A Time

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