Wednesday 1 September 2010

August Bank Holiday and The Russian Tea Rooms

One thing that I really wanted to do this summer...Last summer too...Was to visit The Russian Tea Room in Primrose Hill, London. 

Don't you think that it sound like a magical place? I'd conjured up such exotic images, Shades of Dr. Zhivago and a scene from Barefoot Through the Park, all rolled into one. And it's in 'Primrose Hill,' what an amazing name. I'd such high expectations that I was bound to be heading for a big anti-climax.

But thankfully I wasn't...It's amazing. To begin with Primrose Hill is a lovely urban village. Very classy but it has a really relaxed cool vibe. There are lots of cafes, deli's and restaurants spilling out onto the pavements and it's only a stones throw from Regent's Park. I even spotted what may have been a few Banksy's on the walls. Possibly copycats...I didn't recognise them but you never know.

Then we spotted Trojka Russian Restaurant and Tea Room. It was a lovely sunny day and lots of people were sitting outside, but I had to go in. It was dark inside and we sat at the back where it was quiet so I could sneak lots of photos. As you walk in there's an old wooden, glass topped counter with delicious looking cakes next to a dumb waiter. Richly decorated babushka dolls and bottles of champagne on the wall shelves, huge paintings and gold framed mirrors decorate other walls...not good paintings...rough wooden floor boards, except for a section with lino that was beginning to wear out and curl up at the edges. The whole look is authentic.  It has a kind of shabbiness that makes you feel like you are actually in a tea room in Moscow. I was already hooked before I'd eaten anything.

The service was great the chilled out Russian waitresses were really laid back and gave us plenty of time to order. The menu a mix of Russian, Ukrainian, Polish and Jewish which you can link to over here was just what I expected. Blinis and Caviar, Borscht soup and Goulash along with lots of fish dishes and lots of things I've never heard of, as well as safe steaks and chops. All very reasonably priced. 

It was mid-morning and we'd already had a big breakfast. I really wanted blinis with caviar but it was a bit too early in the day for fish eggs.  So we ended up with espresso's and deserts. 'A' had the Baked Cheesecake and I had the warm Apple Charlotte.

As I've said, I'd been won-over before we'd even eaten, but I couldn't believe how good the Apple Charlotte was. I was smitten. It was amazing and I wasn't even hungry. The fruit was tangy and moist, not too sweet. The apples a little pink, at first I thought there may be a hint of rhubarb in it. I definitely discovered a little lemon zest. It was tangy deliciousness. Then the topping. I wish I had the recipe. It was the lightest crumble I've ever had. Definitely some oats in it and a little flour too. I must go back and try to find out what else was in it. People would die for that recipe.

If the rest of the menu is anything like as good, I can understand why there is such a buzz about this place. It's A's birthday on October 1st which is a Friday when they have live music. We're definitely booking a table it's worth the drive to London...

It was worth the wait.


  1. Hello Debby, your blog is lovely and this post is especially evocative for me as a year ago we used to live just up the road from Primrose Hill. Sigh... such a wonderful spot and your photographs have captured it beautifully. Thanks for sharing them. Can't wait for your take on the Apple Charlotte!

  2. Oh thank you Lucy. It is lovely and just around the corner from Camden Lock so two cool but extreme spots so close. We'll definitely be spending more time round there.

    I'm in the process of experimenting with the Charlotte recipe but know I'll never be able to recreate the Tea Room one. But it's a good excuse to keep going back to test it!

  3. Wow those painting are pretty lurid aren't they?! 'Barefoot In The Park' is one of my very favourite movies (it was Mum's too). It is such a joyful movie and it sounds like you had just as joyful a time at your Russian Tea Rooms. Just imagine how much fun it will be when you have the party there.

  4. Yes we can't wait. I must book it today because it will be such a disappointment if I leave it too late and we can't get in that evening.

    It's a great film isn't it. We all love it and mum used to as well, especially the young love bit at the beginning. I think it reminded her of when she first met dad. And now Hannah loves watching it with us.
    For days after we watch it everyone is humming something like "sharma sharma al cam camala...." It's a real one for cheering you up.