Last visit September 2013
For the last several years we have gone to Russian Tea Time for our wedding anniversary, we spent our honeymoon in the Soviet Union so we usually find a Russian or Ukrainian restaurant to celebrate at. We've also had a couple of VT meetings here at Yooperprof's request.
The interior is elegantly decorated, the service good and not rushed as we spent over 2 hours here. It can be very busy on nights when the nearby Orchestra Hall has a performance, it was quite crowded on our most recent visit and the waiter kept bumping my husband as he went past so he got us upgraded to a nice booth. It's also a block from the Art Institute so it's a great place to have lunch after a morning spent looking at the fabulous impressionist collection.
Favorite Dish: The menu features classic Russian dishes with meat, seafood and vegetarian options. There is also an afternoon tea from 2:30-4:30 daily. Weekend lunch is a little pricey as it is from the dinner menu.
We usually get the Russian Tea Time platter for two ($65) with meat dumplings, stuffed mushrooms, carrot salad, beet caviar, hummus, tabouhlie, and vinaigrette salads for the appetizer course and beef stroganoff, stuffed cabbage, Moldavian meatballs, chicken pozharski, rice pilaf and kasha for the entree course. I enjoyed everything except the stuffed cabbage and beet caviar which I did not try. The beef stroganoff was my favorite of the entrees and the meat dumplings the best appetizer.
Dinner here wouldn't be complete without sampling some of the flavored vodka shots, we both ordered a vodka flight of three shots ($13), horseradish is my favorite, I also liked the cinnamon, ginger and lime. If you order tea with your meal, it's served in decorated metal tea holders, just like the ones you find in Russia.
We finished the evening with the chocolate lava cake ($8.95) for dessert, not very Russian but certainly very tasty.
After our first VT lunch in February 2005, I helped arrange a VT return to Russian Tea Time in October 2007. What a great location for a hearty and refreshing meal, particularly enjoyable for a large party of new and old friends. Russian Tea Time is a little exotic, but entirely welcoming, and you'll feel that Slavic hospitality right away. (Especially if you like vodka!) Those Chicago gurus Deecat and Dabs presided at our table, with Kristie's husband David, and my friends Gerald and Janet, Jimmy the Greek and Eddie Blizzard. I finally made it to the venerable Russian Tea Time in February 2005.
Russian Tea Time is a cozy and affable place, ideal for meeting old friends and making new ones. It embodies my ideal of Slavic Hospitality: sitting at the Samovar and sharing confidances, looking deeply into one anothers eyesin the heart-felt, Russian manner. After a comfortable and drawn-out meal here, you'll feel like Natasha or Pierre from Tolstoy's "War and Peace," ready to face a full-dress aristocratic Ball or the Napoleonic Army at the Battle of Borodino.
For more pictures, check out my travelogue: "Moscow on Lake Michigan."
Favorite Dish: Borschts, blintzes, crepes and stews: good filling food with deep rich tastes. Desserts that are as good as any I've had in Chicago. And tea of every variety and richness. (Yes, they have vodkas as well.)
Russian Tea Time Restaurant
Russian atmosphere, with Russian and USSR music at the background.
Trying to imagine the same as those in Moscow feel: sipping hot Russian tea out of an elegant silver 'wrapped' tea cup in a chilly winter evening, staring at the glittering street through the window.
Warning, for those (like me) who do not drink anything with caffeine daily, do not overwhelmed by the Russian tea: I was not able to sleep even at 4:00 AM after the tea!
Favorite Dish: The link above has a sample menu.
What I had was a fixed-course one, one can choose one item under each of the following categories (what I had is in the ( ): 1) drinks (Russian Tea); 2)appitizers (Liver Patee - French influence?); 3) entrees (chicken Stronogaff); and 4) desserts (Almond Pear Tart). More accurate info will be added later.
I would definitely recommend this restaurant if you have always wanted to try Russian food, but not if you are on a diet- you won't find much low-fat in this restaurant! There are some vegetarian dishes, however.
I had the stuffed potato patty ('kartofelnik') - it was outstanding; my husband had the chicken breast roulette and loved it as well. The menu has a little Russian-English dictionary, and some explanations of the dishes. And the desserts, by the way, were excellent.
It has a dark, quiet ambience, with Russian posters on the walls and various items for decoration.
The servers always made sure our tea mugs were full to the brim (in mugs with intricately-designed metal handles - very nice). They were attentive without being too cloying.
Russian Tea Time isn't just tea as the name suggests. It has a great selection of Russian specialties and they are all homemade. The service is good and you will feel like you are in a very expensive restaurant with the decor, but the prices are very reasonable. If you are into Eastern European and Russian foods, this is worth a stop.
The menu has many choices, from salads and soups to meat and vegetarian dishes. There is something on it for every taste, including caviar and vodka.
As far as when to go, I was there right after lunch and it seemed like there was a big lunch crowd.
11am-9pm Sunday - Monday
11am-11pm Tuesday - Thursday
11am-midnight Friday - Saturday
Favorite Dish: I had the stuffed potato cakes. It was stuffed with vegetables and came with a small salad. Very good.
For an appetizer, the borscht was great. It was a little different than what I had eaten overseas, but I guess it was just a different recipe.
I have walked by this eleven year old Chicago landmark several times and had no idea how lovely it was. Fortunately, on a beautiful day in February, 2005, I attended a VTlunch/meeting at this elegant, intimate Russian Tea Time.
The chef-owner, Klara Muchnich, is originally from Uzbekistan.
The decor is lovely, somewhat understated, with brass samovans (ancient tea urns), brass light fixtures and chandeliers that are dimmly lit and accompanied by low Balalaika music.
We ate in the front room in a wonderful curved leather booth, which was plenty of room for the four of us: Kristi (Dabs), Chet (Yooperprof), Jim (Chet's friend), and Dee (deecat). There were birch-wood tables in the center of the room as the booths were along the walls.
I arrived early, after a wonderful visit to the Art Institute, less than one block from the restaurant. The young woman cordially invited me to sit down at our booth to wait on my friends.
Once we were all accounted for, our efficient, friendly waitress took good car of all our needs. Bus boys made sure our water glasses were always full, and our dirty plates were removed. This is a very efficient, non-intrusive set-up.
Favorite Dish: If I thought the service & decor were grea; I should not have been surprised to find the food so delicious.
Chet & I really enjoyed the dark bread that was served almost immediately.
The menu includes Homemade soups, Beginnings (appetizers), Platters, Main Courses, and Desserts. Chet & Jim both ordered theChicken Breat Roulette which was flatened chicken breast stuffed with spinach & ground chicken & served with mushroom sauce, sauteed baby spinach & rice pilaf. They both seemed to enjoy it.
Kristi & both ordered the ever-popular Classic Beef Stroganoff. It's made of sirloin beef pieces sauteed & simmered in sour cream, Madeira wine, mushrooms, onions, & fresh dill that is served over noodles. We neither one could finish such a huge plate of food. However, we both commented on how good it was. I really liked it because it was so mellow. Even though we could not finish our main meal, we found room for desserts!
All four of us chose a different dessert; thus, we were all able to taste four.
Jim probably ordered the most delicious of the group: the Black Russky which was really decadent dark chocolate mousse on chocolate sponge glazed with ganache. Incredible, indeed.
Chet tried the delicious Apple Crepes which was comprised of thin, tender crepes topped with warm caramel apples & drizzled with a vanilla cream sauce. It was a huge order.
Kristi's choice was the Bread Pudding, but it looked & tasted more like a cake than a pudding. It was bourbon-spiked warm bread pudding on a pool of cinnamon cream sauce. It was my least favorite, although good.
I ordered a double-dip dish of Gelato..one of rich chocolate with bits of French chocolate; the other was a velvety Pistachio with Pistachio nuts...all quite rich but, thankfully, not too filling.
It was the perfect atmosphere for talking & really hearing each other. It was so great to meet Jim. Chet was giving him the super tour of Chicago. I sure hope he returns to our wonderful city.
What a pretty place, and a fun menu. We like places where you can order multiple starters, platters and take your time enjoying your meal. Try the tea -- it is delicious. Sample stuffed mushroom caps, dumplings, a mixed veggie platter. Oh yeah, and GREAT black bread on the side. I went with a cinnamon vodka for dessert....other diners seemed to enjoy the "flights" of three different 2-oz vodkas over the course of their meal! Well, perhaps if I didn't have business meetings set up for early the next morning!
Favorite Dish: We enjoyed so many starters that we asked to split an entree (two yummy squab in a black cherry sauce which they served us neatly on two plates!)