Whenever I go back to England, I somehow always manage to squeeze in an afternoon tea – even if I’m just back for a weekend. And while England would seem the place to do it, there is a little gem of a location here in New York to satisfy my cravings too – although it’s definitely not afternoon tea as I know it.
Last weekend, I headed to the Russian Tea Room, a slither of a restaurant tucked away in Midtown, with Lauren, Kate and Katia.
When you walk in – it’s red. Everywhere. Red rugs, red leather booths, red walls, red ceilings. With no windows, it’s as if it gets redder and redder the further you walk back. And it’s one of those places that makes you feel like it could be morning, day or night outside. And for this, it’s a great little nook for solace from the Midtown madness or from the winter climes. It was incredible.
I was really impressed that, despite seeming very old fashioned, the tea rooms had multiple menus: one for meateaters, one for vegetarians and even one for gluten frees. Plus or minus champagne or wine. I ordered the vegetarian with a generous pour of wine, of course.
The sandwiches were cracking. The veggie plates started with lingonberry blinis (a sticky sweet Russian touch) and then moved on to sandwiches, including blue cheese with pear and walnuts and artichoke with goats\ cheese and red pepper. And for a bonus, there were also beautifully crafted avocado and beet salads on spoons. We all made similarly satisfied sounds.
Of course, despite my veteran afternoon tea status, I continually make the schoolboy error of getting full before the cakes come. I nearly passed out when I saw the trays, but of course I battled on.
The only issue with the food was the selection of cakes. Dear America, please listen. Hefty cupcakes have no place in an afternoon tea. Some Vicky sponge? Yes. Some fruit-topped tarts? Of course. Even a festive sugar cookie or two? No problem. But there is no space – literally in my stomach – for cupcakes. Don’t ask me why because I can’t really give you an answer, other than to say it’s just not the etiquette of afternoon tea.
Still, don’t let my cupcake aversion put you off. The sandwiches, scones and chocolate bites (and wine) were gorgeous, and the Russian Tea Rooms definitely served up some delicious treats with a side of old-fashioned kitsch. It’s a great spot to take someone for a special treat or to while away a few hours with girlfriends. For more info, see here.
Thanks for the treat, Lauren and Kate!