Destination Tea: Russian Tea Room

Where:  Midtown, New York City
Style:  Russian Wonderland
Tea Selection:  6 bagged teas by Harney & Sons
Teatimes:  Daily 2-4:30
Reservations: 24-hour notice;
*For parties of 7 or more, 48-hour notice with a non-refundable $50 per-person deposit
Contact: Online or 212-581-7100
Cost:  $115 Royal Afternoon Tea with Champagne; $90 Royal Afternoon Tea; $35 Children’s Tea
Destination Tea Tips:  Dress is business casual and bring cash for tips if you plan to check a coat. Russian Tea Room exterior

Destination Tea Notes:  By 1927 — when members of the Russian Imperial Ballet founded the Russian Tea Room (RTR) — the tea room craze was in full swing in Manhattan, home to hundreds of tea rooms by the late ’20s. One step inside the Russian Tea Room explains instantly how it has outlasted many of its contemporaries and held its iconic status well into the 21st century. If your first glimpse of the sumptuously saturated greens, reds and curling booths of the main dining room does not sufficiently impress you, the Bear Lounge where afternoon tea is served should do the trick. You are in a fairyland with colored mirrors, a golden tree that grows glowing glass eggs and a circus bear who is more than what he seems, slowly twirling as he juggles. While we enjoyed the fare, which features some Russian specialties, the true star of this experience is the tea room itself.

Entrance to Russian Tea Room

Main dining room at Russian Tea Room
Main dining room
Bear aquarium at Russian Tea Room Bear Lounge
The giant bear who confirms your arrival in the Bear Lounge is actually a slowly rotating aquarium.
Tree with glass egg lights at Russian Tea Room
Magical forest
Mosaic mirror walls at Russian Tea Room
Dazzling mirrored walls
Table setting at Russian Tea Room
Our table awaits.

Tea Service

China at Russian Tea Room
The traditional Russian samovar (urn for serving tea) graces the menu cover.
Tea list at Russian Tea Room
From a small range of well-known teas, we chose Mint Verbena and Formosa Oolong and enjoyed their delicate flavors.
Sweetener tray at Russian Tea Room
A tray of sweeteners invites you to try “cherry varenya” (whole cherries soaked in simple syrup) in the Russian style. For the non-adventurous, a variety of sugar cubes, packets and rock sugar is also provided.
Sweetened cherries for tea at Russian Tea Room
Individual pots of our steeping teas are delivered. Reminder to remove your tea bag after a minute or two to prevent a bitter brew, unless you order an herbal tisane.
Hot chocolate at Russian Tea Room
Aside from a Lotus Green tea, the children have a caffeine-free tea selection of Raspberry Zinger, Mint Verbena, Rooibos Chai, Ginger Tea or Chamomile. Two of the kids could not resist the alternative: The Russian Tea Room’s Signature Hot Chocolate served with whipped cream and marshmallows.

Scones & Spreads, Savories and Sweets

Afternoon tea curate at Russian Tea Room
The top tier of the Royal Afternoon Tea tray features Caviars on Blinis (mini pancakes): Siberian Osetra, Russian Osetra, Hackleback and Paddlefish.
Tea sandwiches at Russian Tea Room
While the tea sandwich fillings are creative, their flavors are a bit diminished by hearty bread slices. Sandwich selection includes curried chicken salad with raisins and pecans, shrimp salad with rémoulade, smoked Scottish salmon with chive cream cheese, artichoke with red pepper and a sun-dried tomato goat cheese, turkey with truffle croque monsieur, N.Y. smoked sturgeon with dill and sour cream, Roquefort bleu cheese and apples with walnuts.
Children's Tea at Russian Tea Room
The Children’s Tea’s “carousel” includes PB&J on Blini, Grilled Trio of Cheeses, Little Pig-in-a-Blanket, Miniature BLT, Cucumber with Chive Cream Cheese, Classic Tuna Fish and Chopped Egg Salad.
Dessert curates at Russian Tea Room
Here the cupcakes and chocolate chip scones are just the right amount of soft, moist and not-too-sweet. Dessert includes chocolate truffles, red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting and vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting.
Children's desserts at Russian Tea Room
The Children’s Tea includes chocolate chip scone, rainbow sprinkled red velvet cupcake, chocolate mousse and apples slices with caramel dip.
Gifts for purchase at Russian Tea Room
Coat check on the lower level is opposite a collection of Russian-themed gifts for purchase.

 

 

DestinationTea

Tea Voyageuse, discovering the world of afternoon tea, based in Atlanta, Georgia.

2 Comments

  1. Compared to other tea rooms previously reviewed here at DT, the Russian Tea Room’s tea sandwiches appear to be more bread than the wonderfully described fillings. I would expect more generous portions at such a historic establishment, especially at that price point.

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