Best High Tea - 2008
If you've ever wondered how the other half lives — the kind of folks who vacation in beachside luxury resorts and the marketing ladies who lure them there — there's no better place to decode the riddle than the silk-, mirror-, and crystal-bedecked lobby of the Ritz-Carlton in Manalapan. Here everything is bigger than life, from the Daimler-sized chandeliers hanging overhead to the Chinese lamps that wouldn't look out of place in the Giant of Nod's sitting room. For a mere $33 per person from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Fridays through Sundays, you'll ogle young parents with more money and children than they quite know what to do with (tykes in expensive frocks zoom through these lobbies like Eloise at the Plaza); you'll thrill to the bright red soles on the PR maven's $900 Christian Louboutin pumps; you'll wonder exactly what went wrong with the plastic surgery on that one, and how this one managed to pour herself into that pair of Gucci jeans; you'll marvel over the chutzpah of the guy yakking into his diamond-encrusted Tiffany cell phone even as his toddler tips headfirst into a plate of Devonshire cream. And all the while you'll be sipping your tea, flavored with chocolate or orange essence, and nibbling on your salmon and crème fraiche sandwiches or smearing raspberry jelly on your scone — all the better to fortify yourself for your own very different existence, which is looking sweeter by the minute. A 24-hour advance reservation is required.