Tiara Tea

The Mayflower's Tiara Tea is a fancy afternoon out for little princesses

Friday, October 1, 2010

The swanky Mayflower may not sound like an ideal spot to take your 3-year-old daughter most days of the week, but every third Saturday of the month, the D.C. hotel hosts a special tea just for little princesses.

Called the Tiara Tea, the afternoon features tiaras and a menu with kid-friendly sandwiches such as peanut butter and grape jelly on whole wheat bread, Nutella and banana on white bread, and marshmallow fluff and strawberries on brioche. Dads are welcome, but the day is geared toward girls and their moms, grandmothers, aunts and friends.

Christiana Coker, 6, of Centreville attended a recent tea wearing a polka-dot dress with a white sweater and a little lip gloss, special for the day. Her mom, Stephanie Coker, thought the tea sounded like fun but also like a good way to teach manners.

"I never have seen something like this," Christiana said, eagerly awaiting the chocolate-covered strawberries, as her sister Beatrice, 3, tapped on her tea cup with a spoon.

What you might normally think of as a stuffy afternoon tea of scones and polite conversation becomes dynamic with the tiaraed ladies, said Bill Downes, the senior sous chef at the hotel. The special tea "brings that lighter energy into the place," Downes said. His two daughters, Dylan, 9, and Logan, 5, came in from Great Falls to attend a recent tea.

"Don't talk with your mouth full," Dylan advised her sister. "Sorry," Logan said with her mouth full. The two sipped hot chocolate instead of tea and wore special necklaces for the day: Dylan sported her great-grandmother's light green beads, and Logan had on her sister's Cinderella necklace. Their grandmother, Susan Bastedo, sat between them.

A harpist plays during the teas in a gallery overlooking the marbled room with white crown molding and large murals of idyllic scenes on the walls where the girls gather. Natalie Washington, the senior restaurant manager, recalled a group of 10 girls who came recently with their moms for a birthday party.

"The little girls were at one table, and the parents were at the other," she said. "The little girls felt so grown-up, especially because they were separated from their parents."

-- Moira E. McLaughlin

Where is it? The Cafe Promenade in the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel at 1127 Connecticut Ave. NW. Advance reservations recommended. 202-347-2233. http://www.cafepromenade.com.

What does it cost? $28 per adult, $19.95 per child 12 and younger. A percentage of the proceeds goes to BabyLove, an organization that helps needy families with babies in the area.

When is it? Teas are every Saturday, but Tiara Teas are the third Saturday of the month from 3 to 5 p.m. (Upcoming dates are Oct. 16, Nov. 20 and Dec. 18.)

If you want to make a day of it: Before the tea, check out the National Geographic Museum's new exhibit on geckos at 1145 17th St. NW, open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tickets on Saturdays are $7 for adults and $4 for children ages 2-12.

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