Russian Tea Room Review – an iconic NYC restaurant experience

by Anthony
a group of people walking on a sidewalk

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Russian Tea Room – Introduction

One restaurant I have always wanted to try in New York City (NYC) was the Russian Tea Room, opened in 1926 by former members of the Russian Imperial Ballet as a cafe and chocolate store. At the time of its opening, the restaurant mostly served tea and catered to Russian artists, particularly ballet dancers. The restaurant was also featured in a memorable scene from the classic Dustin Hoffman movie Tootsie. Madonna supposedly also worked here briefly before achieving stardom.

The restaurant is at 150 57th St., next to Carnegie Hall and across from the Park Hyatt New York Hotel. While they serve lunch, brunch and dinner on his trip, I decided to try their Afternoon Tea Service. Getting a reservation was quite simple through Open Table a few days prior. I wondered why it was so easy to get a reservation, as I had read that a reservation needed to be booked months in advance. Through Google, I discovered that it was due to the current Russian-Ukraine conflict. It should be noted that the restaurant does condemn the invasion and clearly states that on its home page.

a black and white text on a black background

Russian Tea Room Review – Dining Room and Menu

You are brought into a crimson-red and green room as you enter through the revolving doors. The traditional booths are deep red sofas, and you are surrounded by Russian and other European artwork. The walls are green, the carpet on the floor is red, the ceiling is gold, and various pieces of artwork hang above each table with a white tablecloth. There are also birds covered in gold leaf. The reception desk is as you enter, with the main bar to the left.

a bar with people behind it

The Russian Tea Room – Bar

a shelf of liquor bottles

Bar Selection

a room with art on the wall

Artwork on walls

As it was the holiday season, there was also a beautiful lit-up Christmas tree before you entered the main dining hall. The iconic dining hall should be enjoyed for its use of bright colours and artwork on the walls.

a decorated tree in a restaurant

Christmas Tree in Tea Room

a group of people sitting at tables in a restaurant

Main Dining Hall

a table with a white tablecloth and red booth seating

Iconic Russian Tea Room Booth

a table with a white tablecloth and silverware on it

More booths in the dining hall

There are five Afternoon Tea Menus to choose from:

  • Traditional Afternoon Tea
  • Royal Afternoon Tea
  • Children’s Afternoon Tea
  • Vegetarian Afternoon Tea
  • Gluten-Free Afternoon Tea

I went with the traditional afternoon tea, which is priced at $145 per person and served daily. I recommend setting aside two hours to enjoy this dining experience fully. It is a meal, so skipping breakfast, like I did, isn’t a bad idea. The meal starts with a glass of your Choice of House Champagne, house prosecco, or House Sparkling Cider.

Russian Tea Room Review – Savoury Serving

Most food served on the silver trays is “finger food” and can be consumed in one to two bites. The food is brought out in two three-tier silver trays. The first serving inlcuded caviar tasting and sandwiches, including;

  • Curried Chicken Salad with raisins
  • Tuna with watercress and cucumbers
  • Smoked Salmon with chive cream cheese
  • Smoked Sturgeon with dill and sour cream
  • Artichoke with red pepper, sun-dried tomato, and goat cheese
  • Croque Monsieur with turkey and truffle
  • Roquefort Blue Cheese with apple and walnuts
  • Flat Iron Steak with frisée and sliced tomato
  • Liverwurst and Onion Spread with sliced red onions
a tray of food on a table

First Serving – Savoury Tray

a group of small pancakes with black caviar on a glass tray

Caviar Tasting : two American caviars on blinis

a plate of sandwiches

Flat Iron Steak and Tuna Sandwiches

a group of sandwiches on a tray

Assortment of sandwiches


Russian Tea Room Review – Dessert Serving

The second serving of the tea service included another three tier tray with assorted seasonal scones with jams and butter on the lower tier, on the middle tier were two mini cupcakes ( Chocolate and Red velvet in my case) and on the top tier, a pistachio macaron and mini crème brûlée

a tray of pastries and cupcakes

Dessert Course

a plate of food with a spoon

Macron and Creme Brûlée

a cupcakes on a metal tray

Chocolate and Red Velvet cupcakes

a plate of food on a table

Assorted Scones

Russian Tea Room Review – Takeaway

Overall, the meal was fabulous. It’s definitely a meal in itself. Have an early breakfast, for if you have a late breakfast, you will find it challenging to finish it all. I will say it’s a bit pricey, as I have had afternoon tea meals for under $100 USD, but when in New York, nothing comes cheap. If you want to try something different outside of the traditional New York pizza and burgers, The Russian Tea Room is worth visiting both for its food and unique décor inside.

Is it worth the $140? My opinion is no. However, you are paying for the name recognition and location. It has been a NYC dining institution for nearly 100 years and is right next to Carnegie Hall, so it does come with a price tag.

Are there any iconic restaurants in NYC you have tried and enjoyed? Please share with a comment below.

Other Reviews and Reports from my trip to NYC

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade

Per Se Tasting Menu – 3 Michelin Stars

Review: Conrad New York Midtown 


Anthony May 29, 2024 - 7:21 am

Being such an iconic NYC restaurant it is worth a visit at least once. Being next to Carnegie Hall it’s a great place to visit after a show. Glad to hear your friends enjoyed their visit : )

MikeL May 28, 2024 - 2:09 pm

I went a few years before the pandemic with a very close Russian born couple. They have been in the US for 40+ years. They LOVED LOVED LOVED it.. I didn’t order a thing; they ordered everything!

For me, a cajun… Who has been living in Texas for the past 10 years and NYC for 3 years before that; I liked the vodka… but that’s about it hahha the experience was great thought. Seeing them happy was worth it


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