Tea-drinking turns over a new leaf at Gemini Tea Emporium. Owners Brad Cavender and Abdulkadir Omar get extra credit for opening their ultra-hip shop in the heart of Five Points on Welton Street. Gemini is a sign of faith in the neighborhood's capacity for revival, but this shop would be equally welcome in any other part of town. The chic, airy interior is full of plants and richly colored in purple, yellow, lime and red; the atmosphere is as conducive to conversation as it is to contemplation. Or poetry: On Friday nights, Gemini hosts Cafe Nuba, a poetry and spoken-word set from 9 p.m. to midnight. And then, of course, there's the tea -- more than 160 varieties from spots around the world, including China, Japan, Brazil and India. Drink a cup here, or take some leaves to go; either way, Gemini has tea-drinking in the bag.

Tea-drinking turns over a new leaf at Gemini Tea Emporium. Owners Brad Cavender and Abdulkadir Omar get extra credit for opening their ultra-hip shop in the heart of Five Points on Welton Street. Gemini is a sign of faith in the neighborhood's capacity for revival, but this shop would be equally welcome in any other part of town. The chic, airy interior is full of plants and richly colored in purple, yellow, lime and red; the atmosphere is as conducive to conversation as it is to contemplation. Or poetry: On Friday nights, Gemini hosts Cafe Nuba, a poetry and spoken-word set from 9 p.m. to midnight. And then, of course, there's the tea -- more than 160 varieties from spots around the world, including China, Japan, Brazil and India. Drink a cup here, or take some leaves to go; either way, Gemini has tea-drinking in the bag.

Along with cards, ceramic figures, earrings and ornaments, the Gift Box has always boasted several shelves lined with English jams, biscuits, chocolates, condiments and even cleaning supplies, along with a freezer crammed with crumpets, sausage rolls, pasties and bangers; homesick Britishers have been known to visit just to smell the Dettol. But owners David and Carole Scribner always envisioned something more: a genuine English tearoom. So this year, when they moved into a larger location a few doors down from their original shop, they added tables, chairs and china and placed lacy curtains over the windows. And in April, the Gift Box began serving tea -- a real English tea. The scones here are nothing like the huge, sweet, triangular pastries familiar to most Americans; they're small, warm ovals, waiting to be slathered with butter or jam and Devonshire cream. The assortment of crustless finger sandwiches includes cucumber on brown bread, of course. There are woolly tea cozies on all the teapots, inside of which the tea is properly brewed, fine and strong. And should you have any question about which goes into the cup first, the tea or the milk, Carole will be happy to enlighten you. This isn't the ineffably elegant tea served by big hotels and accompanied by harp music and obsequious servers, nor the display of mimsy tidbits favored by certain society hostesses. It's just what tea is supposed to be: a nice mid-afternoon pick-me-up; a proper cuppa with a bit of something savory, a bit of something sweet.
Along with cards, ceramic figures, earrings and ornaments, the Gift Box has always boasted several shelves lined with English jams, biscuits, chocolates, condiments and even cleaning supplies, along with a freezer crammed with crumpets, sausage rolls, pasties and bangers; homesick Britishers have been known to visit just to smell the Dettol. But owners David and Carole Scribner always envisioned something more: a genuine English tearoom. So this year, when they moved into a larger location a few doors down from their original shop, they added tables, chairs and china and placed lacy curtains over the windows. And in April, the Gift Box began serving tea -- a real English tea. The scones here are nothing like the huge, sweet, triangular pastries familiar to most Americans; they're small, warm ovals, waiting to be slathered with butter or jam and Devonshire cream. The assortment of crustless finger sandwiches includes cucumber on brown bread, of course. There are woolly tea cozies on all the teapots, inside of which the tea is properly brewed, fine and strong. And should you have any question about which goes into the cup first, the tea or the milk, Carole will be happy to enlighten you. This isn't the ineffably elegant tea served by big hotels and accompanied by harp music and obsequious servers, nor the display of mimsy tidbits favored by certain society hostesses. It's just what tea is supposed to be: a nice mid-afternoon pick-me-up; a proper cuppa with a bit of something savory, a bit of something sweet.
Common Grounds
What's a coffeehouse doing making such a great cup o' tea? That's what we wanted to know, and here's the answer: Mary and Lisa Rogers, the owners of the two Common Grounds coffeeshops, are tea lovers at heart. After doing some research on the origins of chai, an Indian and Middle Eastern drink made from spiced tea and steamed milk, they decided that the only way to do it was the right way. And so Common Grounds's barristas don't reheat bottled chai syrup as they would at most places, but instead custom-make each cup. That way, tea lovers can order their tea cardamom-sweetened or cinnamon-spiced, made with whole, skim or soy milk, flavored with honey or apple cider, served hot, cold or even frozen. If at first you don't succeed, chai, chai again.
What's a coffeehouse doing making such a great cup o' tea? That's what we wanted to know, and here's the answer: Mary and Lisa Rogers, the owners of the two Common Grounds coffeeshops, are tea lovers at heart. After doing some research on the origins of chai, an Indian and Middle Eastern drink made from spiced tea and steamed milk, they decided that the only way to do it was the right way. And so Common Grounds's barristas don't reheat bottled chai syrup as they would at most places, but instead custom-make each cup. That way, tea lovers can order their tea cardamom-sweetened or cinnamon-spiced, made with whole, skim or soy milk, flavored with honey or apple cider, served hot, cold or even frozen. If at first you don't succeed, chai, chai again.

Best restaurant when you're on the see-food-and-eat-it diet

World Buffet

World Buffet won't go belly up as long as it keeps putting out a spread like this one. For $5.49 at lunch and $7.99 at dinner, diners can stuff themselves with no fewer than a hundred items. There's a staggering collection of Asian dishes -- everything from egg rolls to sweet-and-sour pork, sesame chicken and orange beef, fried rice and lo mein, and even sushi rolls -- as well as barbecued spareribs, snow crab legs, carved-to-order ham and roast beef, spaghetti, a full salad bar, an ice cream station and, if you must, fresh fruit. Amazingly, not only is all this stuff edible, it's downright tasty. Knock yourself out.

Best restaurant when you're on the see-food-and-eat-it diet

World Buffet

World Buffet won't go belly up as long as it keeps putting out a spread like this one. For $5.49 at lunch and $7.99 at dinner, diners can stuff themselves with no fewer than a hundred items. There's a staggering collection of Asian dishes -- everything from egg rolls to sweet-and-sour pork, sesame chicken and orange beef, fried rice and lo mein, and even sushi rolls -- as well as barbecued spareribs, snow crab legs, carved-to-order ham and roast beef, spaghetti, a full salad bar, an ice cream station and, if you must, fresh fruit. Amazingly, not only is all this stuff edible, it's downright tasty. Knock yourself out.

The waitresses wear Sturgis T-shirts, the customers are gossiping about who owes whom money at Broadway's dirtier businesses, and no one takes any crap. We'd be willing to pay extra for such atmosphere, but Breakfast Palace serves it up free, along with the cheapest, heartiest breakfasts in town. For a measly $2.99, you get gritty realism as well as two eggs your way, tasty hash browns, toast and your choice of ham (thick slab), bacon or sausage (three each). The meaty items are quality, maple-cured pig; the eggs are perfectly prepared (they'll even poach them for you); and the hash browns are the fluffy, half-mashed, half-hashed kind that wear a crunchy, fat-flavored crust courtesy of their time on the grill. Ante up a little extra for a glass of O.J. that tastes like the actual fruit, and know that it doesn't get any cheaper -- or better -- than this.

Readers' choice: Pete's Kitchen

The waitresses wear Sturgis T-shirts, the customers are gossiping about who owes whom money at Broadway's dirtier businesses, and no one takes any crap. We'd be willing to pay extra for such atmosphere, but Breakfast Palace serves it up free, along with the cheapest, heartiest breakfasts in town. For a measly $2.99, you get gritty realism as well as two eggs your way, tasty hash browns, toast and your choice of ham (thick slab), bacon or sausage (three each). The meaty items are quality, maple-cured pig; the eggs are perfectly prepared (they'll even poach them for you); and the hash browns are the fluffy, half-mashed, half-hashed kind that wear a crunchy, fat-flavored crust courtesy of their time on the grill. Ante up a little extra for a glass of O.J. that tastes like the actual fruit, and know that it doesn't get any cheaper -- or better -- than this.

Readers' choice: Pete's Kitchen

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