Saturday, May 17, 2014

Russian Tea Time, Chicago

As regular readers will know, I have just completed Route 66 from one side of the US to another - by coach.  Yep, that's right folks, I did it in comfort and style, and someone else did the hard thinking for me.  As our tour director told us at the start of the tour, "No, we are not doing what Billy Connolly did."  That set us straight up front. 

Here is a sign marking the start of Route 66 in Chicago, Illinois:

It may be spring in Chicago, but you would never know it.  It is absolutely freezing by my standards, though clearly not by the standards of the native dwellers.  I think Chicago is a fabulous city and I want to go back there to explore (we were only there for a day and a bit), but I'll go in the height of summer so that my poor old Queensland thin blood can cope with the temperature.

Purely by coincidence, right next to the sign marking the start of Route 66 is Russian Tea Time.  My friend E said that she had the best time ever dining there, and recommended that I check it out.  Being a bit time poor and not really having a good grasp of my bearings, I wasn't going to seek it out, but there it was, magically appearing on Day 1 of my Route 66 tour where we all stopped to pose with the sign.  Neat!

Fate having played its hand, Tim and I went to dinner that night at Russian Tea Time.  The premises have an old world feel, with dim lighting, red leather booths, chandeliers, white tablecloths and dark wood panelling.  It also does high tea in the afternoons.  Russian music plays in the background to remind you that it is a Russian restaurant.

On arrival, Tim and I were presented with a lovely bread basket full of delicious rye bread, and a "garden salad".  I was to learn that the garden salad is ubiquitous at US restaurants, and is your standard salad of lettuce, carrots, tomato and cucumber with vinaigrette.

For entrée (called a starter in the US), Tim and I both ordered the Ukrainian Borscht ($12), made from beets, carrots, cabbage, onions, potatoes, tomatoes:

It was served piping hot with a dollop of crème fraiche in the centre.  It was really delicious and a great way to start our meal.

For main (called entrée in the US!), I ordered the Moldavian Meatballs ($23), made from ground chicken and onions in a sweet and sour sauce with buckwheat kasha, marinated beets and sauerkraut:

The name of this dish reminded me of the fictitious travel guide, Molvania, by Santo Cilauro.  These meatballs were different and tasted just fine, but I preferred the sides, which were all fabulous.

I washed my meal down with a glass of Italian red (yeah, I know, but there weren't many US wines on the list and I am a pinot noir fan), and Tim had a beer.

The service was charmingly eccentric, and certainly prompt and attentive.  The people on the next table were having a laugh-out-loud good time, so that is a ringing endorsement.

Verdict - I'd go back - it was a fun experience.

77 E Adams Street
Chicago IL USA
Ph: +1 312 360 0000


leaf (the indolent cook) said...

I would love to try more Russian food. And visit USA too in the future!

Catherine said...

Glad you had a good meal and good time.
I always think of the song, Route 66, Nat King Cole.
Blessings, Catherine

Jill said...

I was in Chicago last weekend and walked right past this restaurant! I live about 2 hours from Chicago - it's a great city, so hopefully you'll be back and can spend more time.

Kari said...

It looks like you got some authentic Russian food, which is pretty cool in Chicago! I haven't visited Chicago (or Russia) but would definitely like to get there one day.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

What a great start to your Route 66 trip and isn't it great when fate intervenes to make something happen :)

2paw said...

Love those 'travel books'!! I remember hearing they took all the photos in people's backyards. I remember being told about the salads!! The bread looks delicious!!!

TeaLady said...

What a wonderful way to see part of the US. I wish I didn't live at the bottom of the US. We could have met up. Next time!

Kayte said...

All that Russian food looked delicious and fun to see the inside of the restaurant. You are becoming a soup person!! :-) I am always all about soup and that one looked spectacular!