|The Bakery Babe and her good buddy at the Russian Tearoom|
Enter a densely decorated restaurant done entirely in forest green and red, complete with gold phoenixes and fake Chagalls on the walls, Russian waiters in military uniforms, and a singular sense of "they just don't make 'em like this anymore" at the over-the-top kitsch. As we were seated in a glorious, deep booth and looked at the menu, there were only two choices. High tea. Or High tea with even more caviar. Such are the kind of dilemmas I can suffer.
The tea itself comes in glasses inserted in brass holders, and a little dish of sweetened cherries arrives. One is to sweeten the tea with a cherry instead of sugar, the waiter informed us, as the Babe strained to discern if he was faking that marvelous Russian accent. As he went on to describe in detail the glories of herring finger sandwiches, blini with caviar, and the many kinds of truffles and cake we'd be eating, I decided the accent was real. No actor could fake that kind of sentiment for herring paste. The food comes arranged on the tea tray like a modern piece of art, as if each little sandwich is a constructed art form that must have its own space. It was the opposite of the crowded tower of British teatime goodness eulogized in my last post. Was the food the zenith of all that was possible in tea goods? Caviar and herring are not my normal fare, so the meal was more like an adventure than a comfortable sail on a pleasure barge. But in looking around at an ambiance where you expect to see Catherine the Great having a smoked salmon sandwich, it really doesn't matter if you find it puzzling to eat fish eggs on a pancake with sour cream. The point is, you're in the Russian Tearoom, and it's amazing. So thank you, Wonder Woman, for a present I'll never forget!