"The crystal bear is already loaded with fish."Photo: Jed Egan
Our first, tentative outing to the newly reborn Russian Tea Room (those gilded Phoenix bas-reliefs on the walls now take on a whole new meaning) revealed the following:
• Less than a quarter-capacity crowd at 9 p.m. on Saturday night.
• Straight-off-the-boat willowy model types manning the front of the house.
• A surprising preponderance of actual Russians, probably on their way to or from buying up every piece of art there is at Sotheby’s.
• And, last but not least, this nugget of intel: Only the restaurant’s relatively plain, low-ceilinged ground floor is actually open for business. The infinitely more spectacular halls on upper floors are still in need of some touching-up; as the hostess put it, "One or two eggs are still unlit on the Faberge tree … But the crystal bear is already loaded with fish. We’ll just give them a couple more weeks to acclimate." Free of context, this sounds like a phrase from an absinthe nightmare. In the Tea Room’s case, however, it’s business as usual.
— Michael Idov