In my life in Sydney, I eat a lot less cheese, cream, potato and red meat than a life I would live back in the Midwest of the USA. I realize that now. A few people have brought up the meat and potatoes culture over there, and I had never really thought about our diet as being such until I started traveling.
Only, it makes good sense why the Midwest loves a good meat and potatoes meal: it’s hearty, filling and warm for those rough winters.
This would also explain why Russian food is based around the same rich qualities… and why I, a Midwesterner at heart, thoroughly enjoy Russian food.
Mmm… meat, soups, cream, potatoes… delicious.
Before heading to Chicago, I caught wind of a restaurant that serves up Russian food — one that is also run by an Uzbek chef. Uhm… Central Asian influenced Russian food? Pat knew this was immediately going to be on our itinerary. And he was right.
Our Reservation at Russian Tea Time
You never know how things are going to pan out in an unfamiliar city. To play it safe, we pretty much called ahead to reserve a table at any restaurant we thought might get busy, and we were thankful that we did.
My first impression of the place was that it displayed the typical ornate Russian classy style with large furniture one might expect. Upon being seated, we were met with a basket of fresh black bread (oh my god, I missed that) and a drinks menu. I was tempted by the vodka flight option, but opted for Russian tea instead while Pat got to taste his first Baltika lager (again, something I’ve missed).
The drinks were easy; choosing what to eat was not. I was torn between borscht and chicken tapaka and the oh-so-talked-about creamy beef stroganoff. Back and forth we went. Oh, what about pelmeni and smetana? What about the stuffed green bell peppers?!
And then we saw it: the Russian Tea Time Platter for 2. PERFECT.
The Food was like…
Let’s just say that I was so happy to give Pat this experience. The whole time he was kind of blown away because he had never had food quite like it. The carrot salad with a bit of cinnamon, the beet caviar, the chicken pozharski, the kasha… all were just a little new to him. It made him happy to have this new food experience, and I was just happy getting to eat it.
And eat we did. The platter comes with stuffed mushrooms, salads, pelmeni, meatballs, cottletas, stuffed cabbage (oh, so reminiscent of one of my favorite home cooked meals) and pilaf.
It was all tasty, but do you want to know where it was really at?
Russian Tea Time in Chicago
Russian Tea Time is located in downtown Chicago, so the Chicago traveler should definitely make it a stop, but only if you have a few dollars to spare. The price isn’t budget by any means, but Pat and I probably came in at just under $100 without dessert (we just couldn’t fit it in).
This was a great stop for us on our USA adventure, only I can’t wait to have a real Central Asian inspired Russian food experience in the proper setting in just a few short months. Did I just say that? Yes, yes I did.
P.S. Eating at this restaurant did not happen on day 175. I’m back in Sydney, but feeling chilled and wanting some comfort food.