1154 Massachusetts Ave Cambridge; (617) 864-7476 New York may have the Russian Tea Room, in all its splendor; but here in cosmopolitan Harvard Square, Cafe Troyka gives you all that old world charm in a subdued and much more affordable setting. The food is delicious and quite different from so many other restaurants.
In fact, the menu is fun to just pore over, filled with all kinds of items large and small. You can order a full-sized entree or put several smaller dishes together into a Chek-ovian pu-pu platter. Either way you can stay under $10 per person (no wine or beer is served, but patrons are welcome to bring their own).
Among the appetizer-type dishes, Mine enjoyed mushroom-barley soup ($2.85), a large bowl with whole fresh mushrooms in a clear, tasty broth with a dollop of sour cream at the bottom. Piroshki ($2.65) are crisp, flaky individual pies filled with meat, potato, or eggs and scallions.
There are larger dishes, such as pelmeni, or Russian dumplings ($6.85), filled with meat or potato. Bigger still is the meat potato pie ($8.95), which combines layers of all of these; and the stuffed pepper or stuffed cabbage dinners ($9.65), which include a vegetable-tomato sauce and a side of black beans.
There are also blini, Russian pancakes, topped with jam, lox, or caviar; and of course, hot or cold borscht. Desserts such as chocolate waffle torte and margarita cake (no, not the drink layers of meringue, custard, and nuts) looked wonderful, but Mine and his guest had so much fun trying the various dinner items that they had no room left Another visit.
The atmosphere is cozy and intimate; each table has its own Orient Express brass lamp (Paris Istanbul), and the walls are covered with framed photographs of famous Russian figures from Dostoevsky to Nabokov to Diaghilev. Not that any of them have eaten at the Troyka, but they would certainly have enjoyed it. It’s open daily 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 P.M. Fridays and Saturdays til 11 P.M.