Growing up I always remembered hearing about The Russian Tea Room from my parents, they were frequent visitors back in its heyday. So when I saw it on the NYC Restaurant Week list I figured it was about time for me to try it out. Although I had heard it was not quite what it used to be, I still wanted to experience it for myself. Plus since my husband is from Poland, I thought he’d enjoy the Russian food!
As we entered the charming restaurant, I was enveloped by a sense of Russian grandeur, the bright red banquettes and rich gold walls, and bright ornate chandeliers. This is what I imagine an authentic restaurant in Russia to look like, filled with Tsars and samovars. Sure some would say it was a bit cheesy, but I loved it!
I started with the Goat Cheese and Wild Mushroom Blinchik which was a crêpe filled with mixed mushrooms, goat cheese, melted onions and lingonberries. The pungent goat cheese paired perfectly with the tart lingonberries, and the crêpe had a nice consistency, although I felt there needed to be more goat cheese and mushrooms inside the crêpe.
My hubby went for the Red Borscht with pickled red beets, seasonal vegetables and dill in a short rib broth served with a braised beef pirozhok. P loves the Polish borscht and while he said it was very different from the Russian version, he really enjoyed it. He even let me have a bite of the hearty soup and the pirozhok which is the flaky pastry filled with meat below.
For our entrèes, I had the Chicken Chakhokhbili – stewed chicken with tomato and onions, Georgian style, served with rice. I really enjoyed this homestyle dish, it reminded me of a Russian version of the Italian chicken cacciatore. The sauce was rich and flavorful and the chicken was tender. The rice was very plain, literally just white rice with little salt if any, but when you ate it with the chicken it absorbed the sauce nicely
P got the Filet of Beef which was a pan-seared filet with garlic mashed potatoes, baby vegetables and a red-wine reduction. He found it to be very pleasant, not the best steak in the world, but well cooked and seasoned.
For the desserts, we had the Chocolate Pyramid – bittersweet chocolate mousse with a raspberry filling and the Cheesecake. Both were ok, but nothing great – I guess desserts are not the Russian strong suit!
And of course what is the Russian Tea Room without some tea? I loved the “cup” that it was served in, it really held the warmth of the tea. And in addition to the cream and sugar, a small jar of candied cherries were served which I had to ask the server about. She explained that it’s common to put a couple of cherries in the tea to sweeten it instead of sugar. I tried it out and found it to be quite delightful! (Although at $10 for a cup of tea, you’d think you’d get more than just some cherries and two little cookies!)I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at the Russian Team Room, mostly because of the restaurant week menu. Had we ordered from the regular menu, I would have said that the prices were way too high for the food and the service. But I would still recommend going for the experience even if it is very touristy!
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥
The Russian Tea Room | www.russiantearoomnyc.com | 150 W. 57th Street