Born and raised in New York, we’ve past by this restaurant more times than we can remember. Now in our Mid 20′s we knew we owed it to our grown up selves to enter this legendary upscale New York City landmark. Gaudy but in the best way, a way that makes you giddy like you’re at an amusement park where everything is colorful and interesting to look at it. It’s an institution, an experience and we had a ball. Though our visit was during Restaurant Week (should be called restaurant month – it lasted about 3 weeks) service was friendly and professional. Impressive to say the least.
We started at the bar; always a great way to scope the place out before being seated. The bartender was quick-witted and quick to bring our drinks, The Ballet Russe (Ketel Oranje, Absolute Citron, Grand Marnier dance in step with lychee puree and cherries)
Looks pretty and pink, right? Don’t be fooled – it packed a punch but was slightly sweet with hints of lychee.
STEPHANIE: I wasn’t a huge fan. I’m not a big fan of vodka. My vodka cocktails need to be easy tasting on the liquor and you CAN taste the vodka. Yes, with vodka I need a wussy drink.
The Host came over to the bar and informed us that because they were so busy downstairs we would be escorted to the infamous “Bear Room” (see photo at bottom).
It was glorious. The whimsical tree and Bear Aquarium were my favorites, we gazed at them non stop all night.
DOLLIAH: I ordered one more satisfying drink before dinner came, Nureyev (Crème de Cacao and vanilla vodka). I was pretty relieved that it wasn’t sweet like a desert. Chocolate flavor was at the forefront with the vanilla vodka only enhancing it, making it oh so smooth.
STEPHANIE: I ordered a drink more up my ally. I LOVE margaritas. Theirs is made with vodka so I was intrigued. It was surprisingly refreshing and delicious! Russian Margarita (Hanger One Kaffir Lime infused grape and grain vodka takes you to a Siberian Cinco de Mayo, with Russian Standard vodka, Cointreau and fresh lime).
We ordered from the Restaurant week menu; $38 for 3 courses.
DOLLIAH: For an appetizer, I had the Blinchik (porcini and farmer’s cheese stuffed crêpe with white truffle autumn squash flan and served with spaghetti squash salad). Basically, it’s a crepe filled with cheese, it was light. It bored me. They were teeny tiny bites and there wasn’t enough flavor. Seasoning would have kicked it up – otherwise forgettable. I preferred Steph’s Traditional Tea Room Red Borscht (pickled red beets, seasonal vegetables and dill in a short rib broth served with a braised beef pirozhok or hot boiled potato and sour cream.) This was also light but tangy and worth getting again. I’m a sucker for the luscious deep purple hue of borscht.
My entree was sensational. Boeuf À La Stroganoff (red wine braised beef short ribs with house-made thick noodles tossed in creamy mushroom and black truffle cream sauce) The beef was cooked properly, which I expected. What kept me begging for more? The sauce – Black Truffle Cream Sauce (I dream about it). Its flavors were deeply balanced and perfectly savory. I wanted to bottle it, take it home and just use it on as much possible without getting weird.
STEPHANIE: I had their Chicken Kiev (herb butter stuffed in a breaded chicken breast with a saffron jasmine rice, fig compote and mixed baby vegetables) I was disappointed. The rice was bland. The chicken and the veggies were good; it was flavorful however for being the Russian Tea Room I expected to have an orgasm with every bite.
DOLLIAH: My dessert choice was Traditional Cheesecake (vanilla cheesecake covered with chocolate curls and fresh berries) No complaints, it was just fine. Cheesecake with berries and a raspberry jus. The cheesecake was firm and the sauce balanced tart and sweet while cutting the richness of the cheesecake.
STEPHANIE: Their Chocolate Pyramid (bittersweet chocolate mousse with a raspberry filling) beautiful! It tasted like a giant chocolate from those Valentine’s Day heart shaped boxes.
All in all we had a great time. The service was beyond great and the atmosphere is still memorable. Definitely worth a trip; at least once.
Have you been here? Share your opinion. No sugar coating allowed!!!