“Where do you get breakfast here?” I can recall the pained look on the jewelry seller’s face as if it happened yesterday, even though it was in the summer of 1987.
Though young and broke, like any Audrey Hepburn obsessed young woman, I made a beeline to the famous jewelry store on my first trip to New York. While hovering over a set of glittering Tiffany keys, two women in unfashionable haircuts, sweatpants and tennis shoes burst into the door with expectations of toast and eggs. The staffer politely explained they did not actually serve breakfast, and directed the women to a sign on the wall explaining the name was derived from the famous Truman Capote novella that later became the classic movie. They left in a huff.
“I get that question at least a dozen times a day,” the man behind the counter said wearily.
I might have been a liberal arts major, but I could see a missed business opportunity even as a college freshman. “Why don’t you just serve breakfast? You could make it very exclusive.”
This did not sit well with Mr. Jewelry Man. “Tiffany’s,” he sniffed haughtily, “is not a diner.”
Thirty years later, Mike, our niece Michelle and I sat down to eat breakfast on the 4th Floor. They are not easy reservations to get (see below), and we had to rush in a cab to snag a last-minute cancellation slot. The breakfast area is little more than a corner nook with 15 tables. Menu options include breakfast, which is essentially a croissant and your choice of eggs with truffles, an omelet and two seasonal main courses ($29), or one can opt for lunch a sandwich and a soup or salad ($39). Or there’s full-on tea with finger sandwiches, two scones and precious dessert options, including blue tiffany malted eggs atop a faux nest made from phyllo dough sprinkled with glitter ($49). Mike went the manly route and had a salad and club sandwich, while Michelle and I splurged on the Tiffany Tea.
I haven’t had high tea in probably a dozen years. It felt elegant to nibble on petite tuna and cucumber sandwiches while looking out over Fifth Avenue. The desserts included coconut and chocolate fudge and a miniature lemon meringue tart and a tiny cake designed to resemble a Tiffany box. Michelle attempted to eat the nest, a messy process that left her covered in what resembled shredded wheat and glitter.
Pro tip: Extra croissants cost just $4 and come from Boulud Bakery with sides of Nutella, honey sugar and clotted cream. Mike ordered one, which we ended up splitting, but in retrospect, wish we’d ordered one for each of us.
Sitting in the jewel box of a dining room reminded me of a memory I’d almost forgotten. As a 29-year-old, I once stayed up all night and walked to Tiffany’s with a coffee to gaze in the window as the sun rose. However, by then, they no longer left jewelry in the window at night, so all I gazed up was lovely, dark velvet. In that moment, I realized that I was a bigger fan of Capote’s writing than I was of Tiffany’s jewelry.
Good to know:
Reservations at Tiffany’s Blue Box Cafe open 30 days in advance and book up almost immediately. The trick, we learned, is to be advised of cancellations. This is an option you can select in Resy, the reservation system. Check out this page for details, a link to the current menu and the reservations page. If you’re celebrating something, there’s a cake that looks like a Tiffany’s box available for dessert that can be accompanied by a birthday candle. There isn’t a dress code but we noticed that most diners spruced up a bit.
Julie Schechter says
Hi Kathleen, I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy reading your books. Your stories are so interesting and hilarious! I feel like I am transported to the world of French cooking. I have began to try more exotic recipes. Thanks for all the fun! Julie
Karen Kinnane says
Dear Ms. Flynn, Loved this story of Tiffany’s and the Hepburn fans. You can really WRITE! I always thought that what you had was “afternoon tea” and that “high tea” was the meal the workers had after they got off factory shift work. Perhaps I was incorrect?
I’m so excited to find your wonderful blog and am off to make the onion quiche recipe.