27 January 2013

From Russia With Love - The Russian Tea Room (New York City)

This lovely weather we've been experiencing in the Northeast made me want to find a place to get out of the cold.  I found my escape at the Russian Tea Room

Step inside and warm up

At first I was worried that it might be a tourist trap but I was pleasantly surprised to find such a warm, cozy and inviting spot.  Once inside, I thought I had stepped into another world.  I actually pretended to be one of the extras in the Anna Karenina movie--too bad Matthew Macfadyen wasn't there to join me for afternoon tea!  The experience was still magical.

The Magic Room a.k.a. Bear Lounge

Russian Tea Time

There are four choices for afternoon tea which is served daily (2:00pm-4:30pm).

  • Afternoon Tea - sandwiches & blinis
  • Children's Tea - sandwiches & blinis
  • Vegetarian - sandwiches, salads & blinis
  • Gluten Free  - served in spoons, on endive leaves & cucumbers

Gluten Free Afternoon Tea

I selected the Gluten Free because I wanted to try something different.  Again, I was pleasantly surprised.  I personally think the gluten free menu is better than the regular afternoon tea selections--my friend was eyeing  my tea stand the whole time.

Traditional Afternoon Tea Sandwiches
Gluten Free sure looks more appealing than the traditional...just saying

Served in Spoons

The following are served in spoons or on endive leaves:
  • Shrimp salad with remoulade
  • New York smoked sturgeon salad with dill and sour cream
  • Brie Cheese and dried fruit chutney - my personal favorite
  • Roquefort bleu cheese and pear with walnuts
  • Sun-dried goat - cheese with red pepper and artichoke
  • Curried chicken salad - another favorite
These are quite filling surprisingly

Nice colorful selection

Served on Cucumbers and a little Caviar

  • Chive cream cheese and smoked salmon
  • Caviar and creme fraiche
Russian Blinis...pretty sure there is gluten but I won't tell anyone.

Might not look like much but it is good.

The Tea & Cherry Varenya

The tea was the cherry on top for me--actually it was more like the cherry in the cup!  Russians use cherry varenya as a sweetener.  Think of honey infused black cherries and mix that with one of the delicious teas and you have something magical. 

The Cherry in the Cup
  • English Breakfast - Ceylon tea; brisk
  • Darjeeling - Indian black tea
  • Formosa Oolong - Delicate flavor
  • Chamomile - Delicate Sweet notes
  • Mint Verbena - Pure peppermint
  • Rooibos Chai - South African red bush with Indian spices


It was a tab bit odd having sorbet when it the temperature outside was below 30 degrees, but I was able to overlook this oddity because the mango sorbet was very good.

This wouldn't even melt outside

Boris the Bear & the Magic Room

The highlight of my afternoon was the chance to meet Boris the Bear in the Bear Lounge which I like to call the "Magic Room".

Boris the Bear
 Boris the Bear stands 15-feet and is a revolving aquarium.  I had the honor to meet one of his tenants who I have named Anastasia--she is the one blowing kisses. 

Anastasia is so cute blowing all those kisses
My day would have ended perfectly if I could have picked one of the glass eggs from the Faberge-inspired tree.

The Gluten Free Tea gets pinkies up from me--from Russia (in NYC) with love!

She is a little upset since Matthew Macfadyen couldn't join her for tea either!
до свидания (do svidaniya)

Russian Tea Room
150 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019


  1. We have been to RTR about 4 times, and always look forward to it. However last Monday (Dec 23) we went for a special Xmas holiday meal, and had the worst service ever. I was really shocked, and I don't know what has happened to their usual great service. We were seated, and left alone. Eventually someone (I thought he was the waiter) came by, literally mumbled at us, and dropped some menus on the table. We kept expecting someone to take our beverage orders, but no one did. The "mumbly" guy wandered around and kept looking at the tables including ours. At least another 15 minutes went by, and I literally had to "wave" him to come over to us.... it was so strange I thought I was in a diner. I asked if we could order drinks, he barely spoke and took our orders. Maybe 10 more minutes went by, as he brought the drinks to us, another man also came and said he was our waiter, and could he take our meal order! So the first guy was like an Assistant Waiter I guess (and a very poor one). We ordered our meals. The first course arrived, and no one had ever offered us any bread. Again I waved to flag someone down, and asked for bread, another server brought the tray (you only are served one piece at a time, which is custom). We ate the first course, which was very good. No one had ever come to see if everything was OK, or to offer more bread, or to ask if we needed more beverages.... I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone... in fact the entire meal, not once did anyone ever offer anything. We wanted more bread, waved someone down, and THIS time, he turned to the one (in my group of 3) who asked for bread; he served him a roll and spef away! Never even asked the other 2 of us if we wanted bread. My other companion waved someone for bread; and the SAME thing, the bread server comes over, abruptly served him a roll, and ran away.... and I was still sitting without any. For the 3rd time we wave someone down, the SAME bread guy comes back. I asked him "why do you keep running away without offering everyone at the table a piece of bread?" and he yelled back at me "I did too offer everyone"....... and he spent the next 3 minutes actually arguing with me! Over a piece of bread. I was just so upset, that this idiot would ruin our meal over a piece of bread. I asked him to get the Maitre D'. He refused. Literally refused. So finally, I again waved down someone else (our waiter) and requested the Maitre D'. He came over pretty quickly; I explained the story. He apologized a lot, and said "I'll have to speak to him",,,, and he was about to walk away, WITHOUT even knowing which employee I was complaining about! So I told him, and he left... but it was pretty clear this was going no where. Overall the food was very good as always, but really the entire service experience never improved. We got our entrees, no one had asked if we wanted wine, so we had to ask to order some. Same with the dessert course, it arrived without beverages, and no one had ever asked..... So basically the service was 1 Star, the Food was probably 4 Star, but overall this was a ruined (and VERY expensive) dinner. So disappointed, and obviously not going back again. I am sure they won't miss our money, they stay busy based on their legendary status."

  2. This is very disappointing. Too think you had so much drama over bread! Did you write to the Russian Tea Room to complain? We will pass along your message. We hope you find a resolution.

  3. I love to visit Russian city.Nice to know !! I really recommend other to read this article .Keep up the good work .

  4. We enjoyed a delightful dinner discussing business and enjoying some good ol laughs at RTR. Love this spot