August 19, 2017

The Russian Tea Room – Royal High Tea Review

A: 150 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019, USA | E: info@russiantearoomnyc.com

 T: (212) 581-710

Russian Tea Room, New York,  Royal High Tea

The Russian Tea Room, New York, Royal High Tea

The moment you walk into The Russian Tea Room you are wowed by the grandeur of what can only be described as ‘Russian bling’.  This iconic establishment, created in 1927 by some of the members of the Russian Imperial Ballet, is on everyone’s to do list when visiting New York.  Given its opulence and magnificence you expect a self-indulgent experience.

Inside the Russian Tea Room, New York

Inside the Russian Tea Room, New York

Days earlier I had experienced a wonderful tea session there (check out this review: http://www.internationalteareview.com/the-russian-tea-room).  So when I walked through that door again, my anticipation was at its peak.  Unfortunately, that is where the flattery ends.  In short, the experience this time was less than desirable.  Did I catch them on a bad day?  Perhaps.  I hope this is the reason so.  This time, the food was okay to good but scanty and meager, the actual tea (this time a Darjeeling from Harney & Sons) was again nice, but the service was (and it is with a heavy heart I write this) dreadful.   I ordered the Royal High Tea which consisted of an initial course of savoury goodies followed by a course of scones, cupcakes and petit fours, all served with your choice of loose leaf tea and a glass of bubbly.  With a name like “Royal High Tea”, a price tag of $115, champagne and caviar, you expect to be taken on a gluttonous journey, experience a luxurious taste sensation and that it is accompanied by faultless service.  Unfortunately, this was not my experience.

Caviar Blinis

Caviar Blinis

The first course, the savoury course, was an assortment of sandwiches and caviar on blinis.  I was really looking forward to it, in particular, to tasting the caviar.  Regrettably, this course was just merely delivered to my table and plonked quickly in front of me in what could only be described as ‘hit and run’ demeanor.  No clarification was offered as to which I should start with (the sandwiches or the caviar).  Nor was a description given of the varying sandwiches and different types of caviar.  This really detracted from the experience: I love the ‘sell’ the waiters give you.  It is part of the journey.  It makes you feel special.  I had to guess what I was eating by trying to remember the descriptions I had read in their menu prior to ordering.  Nonetheless, the sandwiches were tasty and gourmet (with fillings such as smoked sturgeon, curried chicken, shrimp and bleu cheese) and the caviar flavoursome.

Gourmet Sandwiches

Gourmet Sandwiches

Gourmet Sandwiches

Gourmet Sandwiches

Half way through my experience in what appeared to be a swap in staffing shifts, I was allocated with a different waiter.  This held a light reprieve and stopped the experience from being a complete disaster as the second waiter was clearly more attentive and experienced.  He served me with the final course (scones, cupcakes and petit fours),  described each layer and explained I should work my way from “the bottom up”.

Scones, cupcakes and gourmet chocolates

Scones, cupcakes and specialty chocolates

Scones

Scones

I began with the scones: They were far from soft and fluffy but were crumbly and biscuit like in texture. They were accompanied with little balls of butter and little jars of grape jelly and apricot jelly.  The butter was still frozen and the scones crumbled (exploded!) in my hand and all over my plate when I tried to spread the butter on them.  With rock hard scones and frozen butter, this part was highly unpleasant.

Cupcakes

Cupcakes

Moving onto the cupcakes, they were delicious (especially the red velvet one), light, fluffy and fresh.  And the chocolates were melt in your mouth good and of a high quality.  Overall, the food was okay to good although serving 2 cupcakes and 2 chocolates as petit fours was measly and appeared to lack variety, effort and culinary imagination.    And now to the service…The establishment was not full, indeed it was hardly occupied so the lack of attention could not be blamed on being extremely busy and run off their feet.  I felt invisible, unimportant and that I did not exist.  Also, several waiters were munching on food as they kept passing by my table (O…M…G!).

Specialty chocolates

Specialty chocolates

Yet, the horror continued…I was seated in one of the front booths next to the bar.  Several staff members and presumably a manager stood there arranging their roster the entire time I was there.  I found this highly unprofessional to do so in front of patrons.  They did not even attempt to be discreet about it.  It was quite insulting, rude and inappropriate.  I found this infuriating as it did not allow me to enjoy the beautiful room and surroundings, let alone to create and enjoy “a moment”.

In short, I left disappointed and dismayed.  I really do hope they were just having a bad day because the Russian Tea Room is an institution and this experience was so very different and inconsistent to my previous tea experience.  I am keen to review it again and would love to hear other people’s experiences (which are hopefully happier than mine).

Rating
0.0/3


GD Star Rating
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