It’s been some time since we had Afternoon Tea and in order to get our fix in we Traipsed to the iconic Russian Tea Room. Their tea service is similar to one you would find in London, however they did offer a few twists.
The main differentiator between the Russian Tea Room’s (RTR) service and an English on is the offering of caviar. The RTR has two services, which are the Afternoon Tea and the Royal Afternoon Tea, and the differnece is the caviar option. In the Afternoon Tea you get to sample two American caviars on blinis. In the Royal service you get Siberian Osetra, Russian Osetra, Hackleback and paddlefish caviars on blinis. The second difference between an English tea service and the Russian Tea Room’s is that they serve their tea with a Cherry Varenya. Cherry Varenya are cherries soaked in a syrup. Russians prefer to use this over sugar or honey when adding a sweetener to their tea.
We Traipsed to the RTR around 2 pm on a Monday and the restaurant was not crowded and able to accommodate us in one of their larger booths. The restaurant has a beautiful interior with gorgeous art on the walls all throughout the space. The furnishings of the Russian Tea Room exude elegance and are able to transport customers back to the late 1920’s glam when the restaurant was founded.
Almost immediately after we were seated our waiter came over and walked us through the menu. We looked over the options and readily placed our tea selections. Our Formosa Oolong tea arrived shortly after, which kicked off our Afternoon Tea. The Formosa Oolong is as delicate as the RTR describes. Some of the group felt the tea could stand by itself without any sweetener, however the ones that tried it felt that the cherries enhanced this subtle flavor of the black tea.
After a few sips of tea our main course arrived. We dined on different types of finger sandwiches, which were similar to ones you would find at an English tea service.
- Curried chicken salad with raisins and pecans
- Shrimp salad with remoulade
- Smoked Scottish salmon with chive cream cheese
- Artichoke with red pepper, sun-dried tomato and goat cheese
- Turkey with truffle croque monsieur
- NY smoked sturgeon with dill and sour cream
- Roquefort blue cheese and apples with walnuts
As stated before the twist was that we also tasted two different types of caviar on blinis. Both caviars were delicious and complimented the blini well. The blini is a mini pancake that is top Crème Fraîche and caviar.
Since the beginning part of our service was very fast we took our time enjoying the food. Once we were finished our waiter brought out the assorted deserts. There were two truffles, two cupcakes and three different scones. The desserts were not amazing and did not have the same attention to detail that one would expect of an English Tea service.
Overall we enjoyed our time at the RTR, but the rushed service and the lack luster desserts detracted from our experience. The Traipsing Co. will continue to search for thier favorite afternoon tea service in New York City.