Russian Tea Time and The Bean

Millennium Park, Chicago, IL, USA from Aon Cen...
Millennium Park, Chicago, IL, USA from Aon Center (Chicago) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On a chilly spring morning, my sweetheart, G-Money, and I meet in the city to have lunch.

I am already in Chicago for my final class of the winter term.  I coaxed G-Money to join me for lunch. I took the Metra, where I found this silly sign.  The idea that stolen purses are on the prowl and lurking in Chicago still tickles me. 

Russian Tea Time is one of our favorite restaurants.  It’s within a healthy walk of the Metra station, and as it happens, just around the corner from National Lewis University.  Thank God for cell phones.  How did we ever meet-up before we each had a cell phone in our pocket?  It take a couple of calls, before I realize G-Money is right there, in front of Russian Tea Time’s red awning waving his long arms and grinning.

Out of the brisk, bright daylight, we soon feel like royalty.  Chef-Owner, Klara Muchnik greets us and guides to a quiet, roomy table.  The two of us appreciate the room to spread out and relax.  Sometimes a two-top barely allows enough room for a cup of tea, and G-Money’s wide shoulders can extend beyond the edge of the tabletop.  Not so at Russian Tea Time. The Russian music, the warm lighting, and the elegant table service make us forget the frigid weather outside.

Russian Tea Time is an intimate dining experience.  It’s quiet, relaxing, and oh, so pampering.  Children are welcome, but all but the most adventurous will fail to appreciate the food or the atmosphere.  If the ratio of adults to children is high, a child feels special to be treated like an adult.  But beware; there are no chicken nuggets here, and no grilled cheese sandwiches.

I take the lead and choose a couple of platters for the two of us.  I recommend this approach, if you are an adventurous first-timer.  When the cold vegetable platter arrives, G-Money looks at it doubtfully.  “Will this be enough for both of us?”  I sip my Russian tea and give him what I think is a mini-scowl.  We dig into the Eggplant Orientale, Beet Caviar, Cabbage Apple Salad, Vinaigrette Salad, Tashkent Carrot, Babaganouj, Hummus, and Tabouhlie.  I try to stay cognizant of G-Money’s hunger and just take a taste of the colorful appetizers, except for the Tabouhlie — I LOVE Tabouhlie.  I can’t help myself; I’m selfish when it comes to Taboulie.  Oh, and maybe the Hummus, that’s wonderful; and I must have one more small spoonful of Beet Caviar. G-Money looks semi-satisfied when the Russian Tea Time Platter for Two arrives: meat dumplings, stuffed mushrooms, beef stroganoff, stuffed cabbage, Moldavian meatballs, chicken pozharski, rice pilaf and kasha.

“There’s more?” G-Money’s eyes grow big.  “I thought you only ordered one plate to share.”

Oh yes, it’s all so good.  We have no room for dessert, and it was time to walk off some of the calories.
Russian Tea Time is within walking distance of Chicago’s Theatre District and just around the corner from the Art Institute of Chicago.  Today we walk over to Millennium Park.  It’s the first time for us, and I plan to go back at least once a season so I experience the park as the year unfolds.

We understand why Frank Gehry is considered one of the most influential architects of our time.  The Chase Promenade and BP Bridge are just gorgeous.  I can’t wait until warmer weather when the Crown Fountain is operational.  We only get to see it being cleaned.

Our favorite among the outdoor sculptures is the Cloud Gate, affectionately known as The Bean, by Chicagoans.  From a distance, The Bean just looks like a big sphere of electro-polished stainless steel.  Big and shiny, probably cost a fortune, but so what?  It’s when you get up close that the fun starts.  If you’re a people watcher, you’ll love the way people interact with The Bean.  Kids lay on the cold concrete to get pictures taken looking up at their own reflection.  Lovers embrace and watch their kissing lips expand as they gaze into the cold steel warmed by the sun.  Depending on the view, we see the city, the pavilion or the clear blue sky reflected as a backdrop for the people visiting the park.  When venture under the 12 foot hight concave arch of The Bean, we see various views of our self and our fellow visitors. Cloud Gate is British artist Anish Kapoor’s first public outdoor work installed in the United States.

Yes, we took pictures too.  My hips aren’t really that wide, the convex curve of The Bean distorted my image; and George is really a lot taller in person.

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