Moscow Tea Room Toronto
Moscow Tea Room Toronto is fashioned after the Russian Tea Room in New York with a menu of afternoon tea, caviar and expensive cocktails.
This Yorkville location is the second of its kind in Canada with the first opened in Ottawa 10 years ago and the space is inspired by the luxurious NYC restaurant that was founded by the Russian Imperial Ballet in 1927.
The corner spot that housed Sorelle and Co. up until 2018 now features lots of red velvet, crystal chandeliers, and floor-to-ceiling red curtains that are pulled tight for a more private experience in the evening.
Afternoon tea is served in more of a traditionally British way than Russian and includes your pick of loose-leaf tea and an assortment of sweet and savoury items ($85). Champagne can also be added by the glass ($35 to $125).
The three-tier tower comes with scones alongside clotted cream, jam and European butter, lemon tarts, chocolate choux, salted caramel mini eclairs and a selection of sandwiches.
The tea comes in fine China with an hourglass sand timer to track when it has steeped. Earl grey, jasmine, ginger, vanilla bean rooibos and a few others are the classic options while more rare teas can be chosen at an additional cost. A teapot of 40-year aged pu-erh is $50.
The rest of the food menu is Russian-inspired and features traditional caviar service. Prices range from $195 to $650 for the most premium beluga caviar. That steep price tag is the result of a few factors including scarcity of the beluga sturgeon and the time it takes to be produced.
Caviar gets all of the usual dressings: creme fresh, chives, egg yolk, egg white, shallots, lemon and housemade blini, which is half parts wheat and oat flour.
The Mother of Pearl spoon placed on the side is key to the experience as it doesn't affect the flavour of the caviar, unlike silverware that will give it a metallic taste.
Less out of reach for the regular customer is the pirozhki ($18). Puff pastry is filled with spinach, herbs, and Bulgarian feta and sprinkled with sunflower seed dukkah. A dill sour cream goes on the side.
Traditionally made from yeast dough, the puff pastry makes for a lighter and more delicate blanket for the fillings.
Kotleti ($18) is a Russian take on a meatball containing ground pork, roasted garlic and onion purée inside of the deep-fried breading. The meat patties sit on dill sour cream and are topped with radish, cucumber and fresh dill.
When it comes to dinner, wagyu stroganoff ($48) is a standout. The premium cut of marbled beef is tender to the cut and truffled sour cream and wild mushrooms in egg noodles help further create an elevated take on a familiar comfort dish.
Pelmeni ($25) is filled with ground lamb and dressed in mint, pine nuts, sour cream and pomegranate molasses. The soft-boiled pieces of dough are ideal in texture and balance the rich flavours.
The drink menu is made up of high-end bottles of champagnes, wine, vodka flights and cocktails centered mostly around expensive Russian liquor.
Whisky sour ($22) is done with Bulleit bourbon, Lillet Blanc, Jagermeister and angostura bitters, coming with a nice frothy top and plenty of lip-puckering sourness.
A dirty martini ($24) contains Grey Goose vodka and olives as its garnish.