Lunch In A Russian Bath House Is Just As Weirdly Awesome As I Expected
A while back when I was reviewing Tandoor Palace on Fulton St., to what did my wandering eyes did appear but…a Russian/Turkish bath house with a restaurant. The unnamed restaurant is within the enormous Wall Street Bath & Spa 88 (seriously, I could have gotten lost in there), and they serve a just out of Midtown Lunch price range three-course lunch for $11.95. “This is amazing,” I thought to myself. And so, one day I rounded up a co-lunch’er and went with an empty stomach and thoughts of erasing the vegetarian lunch I had the day before from my mind.
You have to go down some stairs to get to the bath house and spa itself, and then once you’re inside there are really no signs pointing you toward the restaurant. Instead, you’ll get directions from the receptionist like “take a left, keep walking, take a right and it’s by the pool.”
Once you walk up the stairs to the small dining room (complete with Russian TV playing) you get a menu outlining the options for the three-course lunch that includes salad, soup and an entree. I brought along a co-lunch’er to sample more things and we both had a hard time deciding what to eat. One thing that this lunch has in its favor is that the $11.95 includes your choice of bottled water, soda or something called “compote” that appeared to be a fruit juice.
I went with the house salad (left) and my friend got the energy salad. Both were pretty good if you like vegetables at all, or if it’s sweltering outside.
There are five soups to choose from, including both hot and cold borscht. For some reason we were both feeling the mushroom soup that was solid, although since it was upwards of 90 degrees out, not exactly refreshing.
For my main course I got the tefteli, which were two giant chicken and rice meatballs with a tomato sauce over it. You get a choice of potatoes, rice, french fries or vegetables with, so this is not exactly a light lunch. They were some tasty, tasty meatballs. The mashed potatoes were…well potatoes with nothing on them. At least they weren’t covered in dill.
We also got the pelmeni, which contained some sort of meat (chicken? veal?). They were decent enough, if you are into dumplings. Other entree options include shish kebab, stroganoff, fish, blintses, pork or beef cutlets and something called chicken tabaka.
A word of warning about the food here is that if you don’t like dill or sour cream, there is a lot of both in or on nearly everything. As my friend said while eating the pelmeni, “Wow, that’s a lot of dill.” Also, this lunch was a good hour, but you could probably get out of there sooner if you are less indecisive than we were. It’s definitely doable getting back to work if you’re in the financial district.
And as an added bonus, you can go get a tan or schvitz after you’re done eating!
If you’re looking for something different in the sit-down lunch department, and you’re really hungry, this is an interesting place to eat if you’re willing to break the $10 lunch threshold. Believe me, that extra $1.95 was well worth it for the food plus the experience of eating steps away from both tanning beds and a swimming pool.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Uh…it’s lunch in a Russian bath, and I love eating in weird places.
- Sometimes I just feel like I need to both break the $10 lunch barrier and sit in a steam room on my lunch hour.
- I really, really, really like dill.
THE — (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- I have a thing about eating within feet of a swimming pool.
- That’s way too much food to eat on my lunch hour and I would rather just go make my own three-course meal.
- I hate, hate, hate dill.
Wall St. Bath & Spa 88 Restaurant, 88 Fulton St. (btw. William & Gold ), (212) 766-8600