Open for tea daily, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Major credit cards. Reservations. Price: Sandwiches, pastry and beverage, $5.50; Pastry or strawberries and beverage, $4.25.

Carlton Tradition, boasts the hotel's Lobby Court. History could use a little revision. True, the Carlton's setting for tea is incomparable in this city. The gilded, carved, beamed ceiling alone sets the Sheraton Charlton in a class by itself, not to mention the monumental crystal chandeliers and the green-veined black marble tables and the soft, striped silk armchairs. At the entrance, as at Twigs, a tiered cart displays the food and another hold tins of Twining's teas and jasmine tea. But don't jump to conclusions. The waiter, bubbling with good cheer, brings a silver pot of tea. What is it? "Your basic Salada tea," he answers. He also drops off a plate of three crustless tea sandwiches: vastly oversalted cucumber, a good fresh egg salad, and tuna with green peppers.You can have more if you prevail upon the waiter, but at $5.50, more cucumber or tuna does not satisfy. Then he replaces the plate with a plate of dessert - a single slice of dry poundcake cut into finger shapes for dunking. The setting is right, the service is a performance of character and personality. But the food is indifferent, silly, overpriced. The waiter explained that proper pastries were difficult to get. I wondered why the public was expected to pay for the effort rather than for the accomplishment.