Dining among the czars!
We thoroughly enjoyed our meal here last while taking advantage of a Restaurant Week lunch deal. It was perfect timing as I had the holiday off from work and scheduled a 1:30 reservation on the first day of RW. Now, I see many mixed reviews of The Russian tea Room that range from the one-star haters to the five star over-gushers, and can be thankful that we had a genuinely terrific time here in an old school NYC institution.
I just love all these old time landmark places, and am finally glad to have checked Russian Tea Room off my list of must visits. Yes, the decor is beautiful in a gaudy Sean Connery – James Bond Russian cold war era kind of way. Sure, it’s busy, crowded, and very touristy. Yes, the food choices are not for everyone and it is definitely very pricey. Many uppity ladies who lunch, well to do couples, and business power brokers fill the room. Still, it’s been around since the 1920’s so they must be doing something right!
Now, when we arrived we were greeted by the hostess ( with a Russian accent – many working here have some sort of Russian / Slovak accent ) and were told it would be a few minutes for our table. No biggie. She also asked if we wanted our coats checked and had the lady working the coat room downstairs come and get our coats. Nice perk and no charge for that. Within minutes we were led to our table and was happy to see it was in one of those fancy red booths. Looking around, the main dining room is ornate for sure! I felt like that eccentric wealthy Russian dude in that strange commercial proclaiming “Opulence – I has it”.
I also have to say we had no problem with the waiter service here – it was impeccable. Our waiter was a fun guy who was friendly enough and attentive (and Russian). Even though we were here for the RW menu we were treated great. Since it was a day off we started with a few cocktails – not cheap – but so worth it. A Cosmonaut – (bilberry and cranberry blast of Jewel of Russia Wild Berry accented with lime and cranberry) and a Boyer Imperial – (sour cherry preserves, Russian Standard vodka, and Chambord) made a wonderful start.
Here is what we chose off the RW Menu (each at $24.07 a person) –
Traditional Tea Room Red Borscht – Pickled red beets, seasonal vegetables and dill in a short rib broth served with a braised beef pirozhok. I love beets and this did not disappoint!
Chicken à la King – Sautéed free-range chicken breast with mixed roasted peppers and mushrooms in a light cream sauce over herb spätzle. Actually a lot of food on this plate but not over heavy with the sauce. Very tasty.
Filet of Beef – Mashed garlic potatoes served with baby vegetables and red wine sauce. The filet was tender and perfectly pink in the middle. Just the right size for a lunch portion. Also very tasty.
We each chose a different dessert and glad we did. Both were just the right size and were actually quite decent. Nothing amazing but an appropriate ending to our meals.
Chocolate Pyramid – Bittersweet chocolate mousse with a raspberry filling.
Traditional Cheesecake – Vanilla cheesecake covered with chocolate curls and fresh berries.
Actually, we felt it was a very nice deal overall for the food choices and portions we received for RW lunch, and was a terrific value.
Also, we snuck upstairs to check out the grand party room with the giant glass bear aquarium. A lot of mirrors, colored glass, and high ceilings. Downstairs by the coat check area is the souvenir stand with all kinds of Russian trinkets and Tea Room memorabilia on sale. It’s almost like a ride at Russian Disney World. I do have to admit we had a very nice lunch experience here, and is worth it to try out at least once to at least say you dined here. Not sure how dinner would be, but RW for lunch was quite fine by us.
(To our health! the most common toast said in Russia)
The Russian Tea Room – http://www.russiantearoomnyc.com/