Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Russian Tea Room


The Russian Tea Room has been the New York City Theater District spot for elegant Russian fare since 1927. In addition to its elaborate and classic tea service, the Russian Tea Room features lunch and dinner, including a Business Express Lunch prix fixe option as well as Pre-and-Post-Theater Dinner prix fixe options. At pricier dining destinations, I often like to take advantage of these special multi-course menus since you experience several different options at a generally more reasonable price. The Russian Tea Room is no exception.


From its gilded (and quite dated) decor of gold and red embellishments to its samovars and Faberge eggs, the atmosphere screams classic Russia and definitely sets the mood in that direction. The restaurant was nearly empty during the New York City lunch rush, which simply suggests that the restaurant has seen better business in years past. It has a prime location for the pre-and-post theater crowd and probably sees more traffic during those hours, I would expect.

Traditional Tea Room Red Borscht

Regardless of the quiet atmosphere, I can honestly say that my meal here was pretty fantastic. With the exception of the overpriced $8 iced tea (I realize it's the Russian TEA Room, but come on, I can get a beer for less than that almost anywhere else. They also charge the same for each additional iced tea--no free refills), I was pleased with the value of my meal. I dined with visiting relatives who also enjoyed our experience here (they ordered off a slightly different menu they had prepaid for when they booked their Broadway tickets). One of the first course options was the traditional Russian borscht. It was served with a small beef pirozchok and was very tasty from what I tried.

Goat Cheese and Mushroom Blinchik

For my selection, I had the goat cheese and mushroom blinchik. It was fairly small, but definitely satisfying with a sweet and tart lingonberry sauce that offered a nice contrast to the flavors in the blinchik. The cherry tomatoes were tossed in an aromatic Dijon sauce that also punctuated the blinchik very nicely. I thought this starter was a home run.

Beef Stroganoff with House-Made Noodles and a Creamy Mushroom and Black Truffle Sauce

My entree was my absolute favorite part of the meal. I selected the beef stroganoff, which featured a meltingly tender piece of red wine-braised short rib atop house-made noodles in a creamy mushroom and black truffle sauce. The flavors were fantastic, luscious and rich yet not overly heavy. It made me want to add beef stroganoff to my dinner rotation almost immediately.

Chicken Kiev

Another entree that we tried was the chicken kiev, yet another Russian classic. It had a very nice crust and was cooked well. Not too dry, which can be a curse with chicken breast.

Beef Filet

My aunt had the beef filet, which was tender and delicious, served with potatoes and spinach. We thought the side dishes were as much of a highlight to the dish as the main component was. A very nice beef option.

Kulebiaka - Pastry-Wrapped Salmon

The kulebiaka was a pastry-encrusted salmon filet served with a variety of vegetables and a yogurt dill sauce. I'm not a fan of dill, so aside from the sauce, I thought the salmon was done very nicely.

Chocolate Pyramid

For dessert I tried the chocolate pyramid, a dense mousse filled with raspberry and served with berries. It was dark and rich, a nice finish to the meal for any chocolate-lover.

Tiramisu

The tiramisu was fairly disappointing. Instead of lady fingers they had used thin sponge cake layers which did not have enough substance to really soak and showcase the coffee flavor. You're better off saving your tiramisu craving for another restaurant.

Overall, I had a lovely meal at the Russian Tea Room. While its clientele has seemed to diminish (at least in my eyes), I think the food is still on par with its reputation. The prices on the regular menu are fairly steep (my beef stroganoff is priced at $39 for both lunch and dinner) compared to the prix fixe options ($40 for 3 courses at lunch, with a $10 additional supplement for the beef stroganoff option), I think it's definitely worth a visit if you want a delicious experience in time travel. I would be curious to try their afternoon tea! Perhaps in the future.

The Russian Tea Room
150 W 57th St (between Avenue of the Americas & 7th Ave)
 New York, NY 10019
(212) 581-7100
http://www.russiantearoomnyc.com

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