I always wanted to go to The Russian Tea Room, but I admit that I heard so many things about it: food not good and overpriced, and poor service, that it was on the bottom of my list. But then, Summer Restaurant Week happened: it is a great way to try pricey restaurants at a discount (three course meal for $25 for lunch and $38 for dinner), as long as the restaurant embraces the event's purposes and does not cheap out on quality or service.
So I went to The Russian Tea Room for lunch after booking a table on Opentable. I mention it because I looked at the description of the restaurant and it said that the dress code was business casual meaning long sleeve shirts, no t-shirt or shorts. Well I guess that they are more relaxed for lunch, Midtown being full of tourists, because I saw many people wearing these supposedly not recommended outfits.
The decor of this place, created in 1927 by former Russian Imperial Ballet members is incredible, a bit over the top, as if we were transported to the 1900s. There is of course the bright red banquettes that seem to be made of plastic (it is not), the chandeliers, and the multiple paintings on the walls (not sure if there is any space left to hang another thing!).
The first experience on how pricey the place is is the cork fee: one of my friends brought a bottle of champagne from France for a celebration. Apparently, the cork fee was $55! We surely declined.
So, as we were making up our mind as far as the menu goes, they brought us some bread and butter. I admit that I thought that the bread was not that fresh at that point...
Then, I chose an appetizer: goat cheese and mushroom blinchik that is a crêpe filled with goat cheese, wild mushrooms, melted onions, served with a sauce made with lingonberries.
When the dish came, I thought that it was a small portion. Fortunately, it was delicious, goat cheese and melted onions pairing very well together, the later having a nice sweetness. And if you love mushrooms, you will not be disappointed either as they definitely stood out. The crêpe itself was perfect: very thin and well cooked, it was nicely soft. I just wished there was more of it.
For the entrée, I got the chicken à la Czar that is sautéed chicken breast with roasted red peppers and mushrooms in a light cream sauce.
Interestingly, they were not at all consistent with the serving: I got two mushrooms, while one of my friends got plenty.
And in fact I picked that dish for the mushrooms! Fortunately, the chicken was well cooked and moist, perfect when dipped with the cream sauce that was, as advertised, light.
For dessert, I chose the chocolate pyramid, made with bittersweet chocolate mousse and with a raspberry filling:
That was a delicious dessert: light, not too sweet and very chocolate-y. I surely recommend it. I ate it with an espresso that was quite pricey ($8).
Although it was a bit inconsistent, I liked my lunch at The Russian Tea Room: for $25 we got a good deal and had a decent meal. I should mention the service that was quite good. Would I go back outside of Restaurant Week: probably.
Enjoy (I did)!
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And Remember: I Just Want To Eat!