We've been hearing for a couple of weeks now that the Russian Tea Room is about to reopen in its old location. (Read Gael Greene's account of the institution here.) Outside of a few rumors and a U2-like spy photo on Eater, there hasn't been much info on what to expect from the new iteration. But in a glasnostlike gesture, the restaurant has thrown open its doors to Grub Street and our cameras.
The Tea Room will have a soft opening on Wednesday; the first reservations will be available for Friday. (They will be open 7:30 a.m. to midnight weekdays, 10:30 a.m. to midnight Saturday, and 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Sunday.) Executive chef Gary Robins, formerly of the Biltmore Room, will bring back the famous caviar service, albeit with mostly farm-raised sturgeon from around the world (and a small reserve of pre-ban Beluga too). But they didn't hire Robins just to oversee caviar and blinis. The chef, known for his fusion creations, will do a kind of Russo-global cuisine, featuring dishes like roasted pork tenderloin with a light spice crusting, pork-and-wild-mushroom golubtzi (stuffed cabbage) with foie gras and chanterelles tucked inside, and kasha prepared like polenta, in a bath of fragrant butter. "We're making it the best food we can, but we want it to be a place to gather and socialize," Robins says. "You should be able to just drop in. We'll have hot and cold breakfast, even an afternoon tea service. You don't have to come here just for a huge meal." With all due respect, Mr. Robins, we think we'll take a big meal to start.