Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Russian Tea Room to close


Fat Guy
 Share

Recommended Posts

Eric Asimov's When Restaurant Makeovers Go Awry in the NY Times is online.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have always respected the RTR as a NY institution, I have dined there several times (only once since the re-opening) and I have always enjoyed the experience. It may or may not be for me but it deserves respect. I wanted to share my perspective on the closing, as I believe that the RTR would not be closing if it were not for the untimely death of Warner Leroy. Warner himself was an institution and had the ability to draw crowds, attract parties and if nothing else attract investors.

It seems to me that if I had invested some $10M, as did one company, and the person in whom I believed died, I would be hesitant to continue to support the investment and would likely try to write off the loss. It appears that the main investor was (rightfully) not as confident in 23-year-old Jennifer Leroy as they were in Warner. I believe if Warner were still alive or an other established group were operating the RTR the original investor would continue to support the operation or Warner would have attracted new investors. Who wants to give millions of dollars the daughter of an industry icon?

My guess is that the RTR will be purchased and reopened; my fear is that it is likely to be bought by a group like RA, ARC or Cipriani who could never recapture the charm the RTR was built on. If only Warner were still alive...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jordan, where is your sisterhood?!?!? OOps, sorry, had you confused with jordyn. No matter.

Who wants to give millions of dollars the daughter of an industry icon?
Oh, I wouldn't know, but maybe you could ask Christy Hefner, or one of the Missoni family, or even Christina Onassis, for a complete view. Or Ted Williams's daughter :shock:

Having no access to RTR's balance sheets, all I can go on is what I read. Seems to me that the whole management team was unable to do the job, not merely the heiress. Empty banquet rooms mean the salespeople are not selling, period. In tough times, promotion staff have to work even harder, and to blame it on 9/11 is nonsense. Especially since the place lost its core clientele long ago, when Warner closed the place for so long while fighting with David Bouley and putting in his Russian fantasy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am not blaming Jennifer for not being able to breath life into the RTR; very few people could. My point is that her father would have been able to raise funds and keep the RTR buzzing. As well, investors’ not wanting to put money into a project led by the 23-year-old child of an industry icon is not a reflection of her sex or her intelligence, only her age and lack of experience.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The RTR was never really my kind of place, but I have some fond memories of the few occasions I happened to be there. I missed the RTR I knew and I missed it most when I set foot into the place Leroy had created. By now I'm used to not having it around. It's a subjective thing. Someone could create an exact replica of the old RTR in New Jersey and it might work for some and not for others. Here we had the same location and name, but a different feel and ambience.

Jack Trout, president of Trout & Partners, a marketing strategy firm hit it squarely on the head when he was quoted by Asimov as saying "My feeling is, they had a well-known name that had no meaning anymore." Asimov himself had these words to say. "Mr. LeRoy's error, many say, was to try to reinvent the Russian Tea Room along Tavern's lines." [That's Tavern on the Green, another of Leroy's restaurants that be and large drew a different crowd than the old Russian Tea Room, in my opinion.]

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I never enjoyed the Russian Tea Room, I always felt that it was a rip off and a tourist trap. I agree with Jordan on two points: 1) RTR would not be closing if Mr. Leroy were still alive (he would have tweaked the business plan and come up with new investors); 2) It will probably be taken over by a corporate or even worse public restaurant group.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

RTR would never be closing if Faith Stewart Gordon didn't sell the place. Or if the new owners didn't change anything about the old place. There are certain restaurants that stand for the concept of continuity and that is why they are popular. The Ivy in London is a restaurant like that. I'm sure we can name others the world over. What Mr. Leroy did was to take the RTR and turn it into Russian Disneyland. And while that might have been an admirable goal from a business perspective, it one, alienated the day in and day out customers that went there for years and two, and as I said earlier, I don't see the allure of things Russian these days especially on that level. Maybe if he had the Kirov ballet perform every night they would have filled the place.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 6 months later...

Jessica's Biscuits is offering a book called "The Russian Tea Room: A Love Story" (Stewart-Gordon) for $9.98. "Former Russian Tea Room owner Faith Stewart-Gordon's charming and revealing memoir shows why this legendary rsetaurant live sup to its reputation -- and then some." Have any members reviewed this book?

Note that Jessica's Biscuit also has "Desserts by Herme" available for $15.98 (reg. $35).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 years later...

I had the pleasure of dining at the RTR a few months before it closed. I loved it and was sad to learn of its closing. I was just wondering if anyone has any information about what became of all the artifacts of this restaurant. i.e. the tiffany stained glass, giant acrylic bears, $20,000 african zebra wood panels, etc. It was a beautifully audacious place that had importnant history and food that I really enjoyed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...
There is no need for a Russian restaurant to exist anymore because after all, what is interesting about classical Russian food?

I hope this is a joke... Russian/Ukrainian/Polish cuisines have had a huge impact on French cuisine (and vice versa), and fine dining as we know it.

I'm looking through pictures of some of Thomas Keller's dishes right now, and what do I see? Many preparations with sturgeon caviar, eggplant caviar, perogies (vareniky), a dessert involving rhubarb and poppy seeds, etc.... You can also look through Michel Bras' book and see Russian influences, Alain Ducasse serves (or at least has) sturgeon caviar with buckwheat blini, and many other famous chefs are serving Russian-influenced dishes. Heck, I'm seeing Borshch pop up on menus everywhere (although most aren't as good as they could be...).

I will admit, I'm alot more knowledgeable about Ukrainian food than Russian (my mother is Ukrainian) and I'm a professional myself (most of my professional experience is in high-end French restaurants due to a lack of Russian and Ukrainian restaurants). From what I've heard from my Russian friends, the cuisines are very similar... I've managed to slip in Ukrainian dishes in just about every restaurant I've worked at, to rave reviews. Theres nothing at all wrong with the style of food, just bad cooks...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I will admit, I'm alot more knowledgeable about Ukrainian food than Russian (my mother is Ukrainian) and I'm a professional myself (most of my professional experience is in high-end French restaurants due to a lack of Russian and Ukrainian restaurants).  From what I've heard from my Russian friends, the cuisines are very similar...  I've managed to slip in Ukrainian dishes in just about every restaurant I've worked at, to rave reviews.  Theres nothing at all wrong with the style of food, just bad cooks...

The only thing similar about Russian and French cuisine is that the dishes they are referring to are French. The Russian royalty were enamoured with French culture and they spoke French. All of the Russian aristocracy spoke French as a second language and the royals and some of the aristocracy hired French Chefs to work for them.

Russian food in general is nothing like French food.

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

[The only thing similar about Russian and French cuisine is that the dishes they are referring to are French. The Russian royalty were enamoured with French culture and they spoke French. All of the Russian aristocracy spoke French as a second language and the royals and some of the aristocracy hired French Chefs to work for them.

Russian food in general is nothing like French food.

They share the same stock and sauce-making techniques. Many bread making techniques came from the east (ex. Poolish). They treat meats in a similar manner. Many French dishes came from the east and vice versa, I mean theres recipes for Kasha in Escoffier's encyclopedia (although nowadays severely outdated...)...

Yes, the flavours and ingredients are different (more sweet/sour flavours in eastern european cooking, ingredients reflect the climate), but the core of the 2 cuisines are very similar... It's funny, I remember watching my Ukrainian grandmother cook when I was younger, then I was working with clasically trained French chefs (who themselves were trained in 2 and 3 star Michelin restaurants), and the techniques are the exact same...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...