tea & vodka: russian tea time in chicago, ilAugust 14th, 2011
open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, an intimate space in chicago captures the russian tradition of tea all day, every day. we stopped in on a weekday afternoon and crafted our own afternoon tea, one that also included a flight of vodka.
technically a restaurant, russian tea time looks very much like a lovely little dark tea room, sophisticated but cozy. in the afternoon, a full tea is served, but we opted to order a la carte, with a plate of tea savories, cranberry-raisin scones with house-made whipped cream and strawberry marmalade, and an endless pot of black tea. the savories consisted of a salmon and cream cheese tea bite, a spring crepe with peanut sauce, roasted red pepper and cream cheese sandwich, and a miniature sun-dried tomato quiche. we enjoyed the food very much, and our tea was quite good, as well, but the standout was the scone, which was absolutely one of the best we’ve had on the teatripster trip.
we settled back and savored. heavy draperies covered the windows, separating us from the busy chicago sidewalk. inside, we were surrounded by dark wood, cream tablecloths, brass samovars and enamel cloisonné-type samovars, and russian doll teapot cozies. there were traditional brass sconces and wood-framed mirrors on the cream-colored silk wallcovering. the rose-burgundy-edged china echoed the burgundy-and-cream theme of the room, and we enjoyed viewing huge displays of fresh flowers in every direction – a really lovely touch.
in the middle of our tea, our server brought a flight of vodkas – a coriander vodka, a black currant tea vodka and a lime vodka. the black currant tea vodka was delightful and definitely tasted of black currant tea. it was by far our favorite in the flight and worth experimenting with some black tea infusions once we’re back home. with russian music playing in the background as we shared the shots and then returned to our pot of tea, we enjoyed a great retreat before hitting the streets again for sightseeing.
russian tea time is a 17-year-old chicago institution where the slogan is: take tea, enjoy life. it’s a philosophy that we embraced there, and one that we’ll carry with us always.
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