Magazine article The New Yorker

The Russian Tea Room; Tables for Two

Magazine article The New Yorker

The Russian Tea Room; Tables for Two

Article excerpt

150 W. 57th St. (212-581-7100)--As anyone with a passing knowledge of New York City real-estate lore or the oeuvre of Dustin Hoffman knows, the Russian Tea Room ought to feel like someplace special. Never has this seemed more the case than this year, when Gerald Lieblich rescued the deed from the United States Golf Association and pledged to restore the restaurant to its "Tootsie"-era primacy. His incarnation, the Tea Room's fourth since 1926, opened in November, and it leaves intact, more or less, Warner LeRoy's thirty-six-million-dollar tsarist wonderland from 1999. A liveried attendant continues to whirl the revolving door; the burnished antique samovars stay, as do veal Pojarski and chicken Kiev (albeit in fine print on the menu's last page). The only thing Lieblich forgot to take out of the attic, it appears, is a sense of grand occasion.

Everybody's rooting for the place. "Is that a Picasso?" a tourist asked the other evening, eager to imbue with further meaning a painting, hanging near the elevator, of a horse rider playing a mandolin. …

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