Open for tea Monday through Friday, 4 to 6 p.m. Major credit cards. Reservations. Price $4.50 includes sandwiches, pastries and tea.
High tea at Twigs is too good to be true, so I only hope it is still true by the time you read this. When I tried it, practically nobody else had discovered the phenomenon; thus the room and the entire food supply was all ours. Twigs is a garden of elaborate fabrics and furnishings. You can sit on a sofa or in a cushioned armcharir at a glass-topped table. You can have a twigmotif tablecloth or a woven place mat. You can sit in a sunny window and feel as if you are on the veranda of some island hideaway. Your hunger is piqued by the multi-deck trolley at the entrance, set with pastries and sandwiches under plastic wrap. As you are seated, the waiter sets on your table a silver bowl filled with a thick, sweet and tangy cream that is as close as America gets to English Devonshire cream. It is meant to be spooned on scones (which we never got), but is too good to resist spooning and licking in anticipation. You order from a choice of six Twinings teas, and eventually they come, in fat brown china pots, with the waiter struggling over unfamiliar strainers. An hour's training could turn this into a deligtful ceremony, for all the paraphernalia-sugar tongs, extra pot for water, metal tea ball in the pot-are available. The waiter also brings a silver tray generously arranged with food. The rectangular sandwiches on flattened white bread look a little shopworn, but their innate quality more than compensates. Smoked salmon with chives and butter. Extravagant. Real roast turkey sliced paper thin. Painstaking. Chopped walnuts with parsley butter. Clever. Watercress leaves, carefully plucked, and cucumber sliced paper thin and slathered with mustard. Delicate. The waiter uncomplainingly brought more when we greedily finished our allotment.Then the pastries, very tiny and assuredly pretty and quite proper. Pineapple chunks were on a combination of choux paste and puff pastry, far beyond the call of duty. Strawberry barquettes were somewhat soggy, but buttery and custard-dabbed. Chocolate eclairs and white fruitcake and cherry tarts would have palled if they had been large enough for more than a bite, but the precision and variety were appreciated.In all, this lives up to one's image of a tea party, and encourages an afternoon of relaxing and feasting. The waiter may disappear when you are looking for the check, but you just settle in and nibble another strawberry tart.