Celebrate your Irish roots with this unique St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, menu at New York City’s most iconic restaurant.
Every year New York City buzzes with the celebration of everything Irish on St. Patrick’s Day and this year the famed Russian Tea rooms has launched a special menu, especially for March 17.
Celebrating 91 years this year The Russian Tea Rooms has been famous for its influential clientele and its food for almost a century. This year’s St. Patrick’s Day menu, including sophisticated twists on St. Patrick’s Day favorites, such as corned beef, black pudding and even Irish soda bread will certainly not disappoint.
What could make St. Patrick’s Day in New York more special that a trip to the iconic Russian Tea rooms? But what makes this New York landmark so special? A brief look at its history and legacy tells all.
The Russian Tea Room most famous clientele through history
In the beginning, there were dancers. And dissidents. And intellectuals, who met to discuss how to overthrow Stalin and return to Russia. Soon, George Balanchine was such a beloved regular that he was allowed into the kitchen. (It was there that he met future wife Maria Tallchief.) Nuryev was beloved, too, doted over by his favorite waitress, who brought him iced Stoli and borscht. (When a Russian interviewer asked him why it was his favorite restaurant, he said, “Because I know I won’t be poisoned there!”)
Writers, Broadway actors, and artists followed in the 40s, 50s, and 60s: Chagall, Dali, Agnes de Mille, Arthur Miller, Elie Weisel, William Faulkner, Anita Loos Marlene Dietrich, the Strasbergs, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Mike Nichols, Sylvia Miles, Paddy Chayevsky, the Newhouse clan and others had their tables. Agents like Sam Cohn had regular tables. It’s been rumored that there was also an element of a mafia underbelly…
The 70s through the 90s were about international stars, from Grace Kelly to Jackie O to the Prince Aga Khan and Barbra Streisand. As a result, it was also favored by agents and poison-pen gossip columnists alike.
The restaurant is so iconic, it has appeared in scenes in “Manhattan,” “Sweet Smell of Success,” “Tootsie,” “Sex and the City” and “Gossip Girl.”
Today, the Russian Tea Room is being rediscovered by top-level creatives, such as Liam Neeson, John Malkovich, Kate Winslet, Damian Lewis, Harrison Ford, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, Jim Belushi, Anna Kendrick, Zachary Woods, Bono, Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, Danny DeVito, and Emma Watson.
The magical design of The Russian Tea Room
What began as a humble, almost diner-like room and soda fountain in a storefront across the street moved to a long, narrow room in an 1880’s brownstone eventually grew to a 30,000-square-foot, six-story space that feels like Christmas all year (albeit in Imperial Russia).
During the late 1990s, The Russian Tea Room redesign took things over the top following the multi-year renovation, during which the space was torn down and rebuilt, adding three kitchens, four dining rooms, two bars, miles of gold braid, plus silver leaf and Tiffany glass.
Today, with its 18-foot-tall bear aquarium and miniature replica of St. Basil’s Cathedral from Red Square, it is a space awaiting Jeff Koons and Lady Gaga, a place for the Baroque imagination and love of excess. In a city where celebrity decorators have carefully curated tastefully minimalist restaurants and bars for the past two decades, the RTR’s uninhibited excess can feel like a joyous relief.
Food at The Russian Tea Room
Once considered homey comfort fare by Russian expats, the Franco-Russian fare served here now has a sophisticated nostalgic feel.
Favorites such as borscht, boeuf à la stroganoff, côtelette à la kiev, and, of course, caviar and blini continue to rule, while the pelmeni (beef dumplings in consommé) now contain foie gras and truffle, the house-cured salmon gravlax is accompanied by preserved lemons, potato-chive blini and grated beet horseradish cream, and the imported caviar offerings have been joined by domestic selections, including California white sturgeon.
On the dessert side, the classic cherry and cheese blintzes can be ordered alongside the Czar’s gold and caviar parfait, topped with 24K edible gold. Over the decades, the famous selection of vodkas has grown to include more than 40 varieties.
Afternoon tea, long a tradition, has expanded to include menus for children, vegetarians, and gluten free.