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Chicago Classics - Afternoon Tea at Russian Tea Time

By Anthony Todd in Food on May 26, 2010 4:00PM

Few things are cozier than a good afternoon tea service. Most Chicagoans think of afternoon tea as a formal affair at the Palm Court at the Drake, or perhaps at the top of the Ritz Carlton in the formal lobby. For those who want a less formal (and much cheaper!) version of the ritual, Russian Tea Time is the place for you. Great tea, great food and a comfortable atmosphere, plus the chance to order vodka flights - what more could a person want?

Our dining companion remarked that Russian Tea Time looked like it hadn't changed in fifty years, and that wasn't a bad thing. Actually, RTT is only 14 years old, but we totally understand his comment - stepping into Russian Tea Time is like a trip back to an earlier age of dining, filled with brass fixtures, red velvet and leather and old Soviet posters on the walls. The tea menu is also classic, starting with finger sandwiches and ending with pastries. However, we strongly believe that the food AND the bargain is better here than at any of the "fancier" tea spots. For just $23 a person, you get a pot of tea, scones, 5 different savory dishes and tons of pastries and cookies. We have never managed to finish a full tea service; in fact, if you want to save a little cash, just order the tea service for one person and share.

The finger sandwiches are wonderful, and there are options for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Start with a classic salmon and cream cheese sandwich with fresh dill, move on to a roasted red pepper and cream cheese bite and end with a mini quiche with sun dried tomatoes. Our favorite was the reuben with farmer cheese and asparagus - we could easily have eaten 5 of these.

Russian Tea time is also great for those who prefer a less fussy tea experience. Yes, you have formal china, lumps of sugar and dainty silver, but the food is anything but and snobbery isn't part of the service. Tea is served from 2:30 to 4:30 every day, and if you get there early, you won't have trouble getting in!

Russian Tea Time is located at 77 East Adams St. We are always looking for suggestions for Chicago Classics - any restaurant open more than 10 years can qualify. Add to the comments if you'd like to see something covered. RTT4.jpg