Russian dining has become more and more popular and it’s easy to see why. The mix of fine delicacies and comfort dishes served in a boisterous and welcoming environment, where the vodka flows freely makes for a great night out. Until recently good Russian cuisine was reserved for the high end dining experience, but boy has it branched out. Now you can experience everything this wonderful cuisine has to offer in a variety of unique settings. Just be sure to say Nostrovia at the end of your meal.
Mari Vanna in New York City’s flat iron district truly exemplifies the concept of Russian hospitality. Walking into the restaurant is like walking into another era. Mari Vanna’s quiet elegance is apparent in everything from the glittering chandeliers, old photographs adorning the walls, gilt framed mirrors, and the dining room done in muted shades of cream and yellow, and outfitted with French country style furniture. This cozy spot creates a warm and inviting atmosphere to experience Mari Vanna’s culinary prowess with the celebrated dishes of Russia. The menu encompasses a wide range of Russian cuisine, prepared with superior quality products and given the Mari Vanna treatment - unique presentation on quaint china. Plates are rested upon crocheted doilies, for an added touch. Every part of your experience at Mari Vanna’s is sure to be unlike anything you’ve experienced before. Many compare it to dining in a fairy tale. Mari Vanna’s provides that truly exceptional Russian experience.
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Russian Tea Time in Chicago, IL is another iconic restaurant, not only in the Russian cuisine scene, but in the culinary industry in general. Known for their unique menu of not commonly seen vegetarian plates, and use of exotic meats in traditional Russian dishes, Russian Tea Time puts out food that is always ahead of the curve. The ornate and striking red dining room lined with horseshoe shaped banquettes provides the perfect setting, and its downtown location set among such elite buildings as the Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra lends an air of sophistication. Menu highlights include Duck Strudel, Wild Quail and the ever popular Beef Stroganoff. Russian Tea Time, as the name suggests, serves afternoon daily with quite an impressive spread. Russian Tea Time proudly serves their own house infused vodkas and diners are encouraged to drink their vodka “the proper Russian way”. Owner and chef Klara Muchnik started down a very different career path at first. But time and circumstance and the addition of her business minded son allowed for the creation of a restaurant that is celebrated both in and out of Russian circles.
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Denver is not particularly known for a high Russian population, so imagine our surprise when we found a gem hidden in the Lodo section of the city. Red Square Euro Bistro serves modern takes on classic Russian and Eastern European cuisine. The menu includes important Russian dishes such as Beef Stroganoff and Pork Schnitzel. But Red Square also offers other regional dishes like San Francisco Cioppino. The result is an eclectic mix of popular dishes from different regions all available in one contemporary bistro. The restaurant itself lends an air of sophistication with red walls, hanging paper lanterns, floor to ceiling drapes and unique dining “niches”. Red Square Euro Bistro is a great way to experience Russian cuisine. While you are there, be sure to partake of Red Square’s 100 frozen vodkas.
Firebird Slavic Restaurant & Gallery in Carmichael, CA combines beautiful artwork with Russian and Slavic dishes prepared in exquisite detail. The menu is rich in Russian comfort food and delicacies, as well as a section that pays homage to the noodle and its importance in Russian cuisine. Blinis, Pelmeni (raviolis) and Vareniki (dumplings) are stuffed with potatoes, cheese, minced meats and even caviar. Other popular dishes include Lamb Stew with delicate pot pie crust, Chicken Kiev and Tabaka Chicken, a Cornish game hen prepared in the Georgian style. A great time to visit Firebird is during their one of a kind lunch buffet well stocked with Russian favorites. Firebird perfectly fills a niche in the area that up to this point was sorely lacking. That combined with their extremely authentic cuisine has given them quite a following.
Well known in the Boston community, Natan and Ludmila Slezinger brought their Russian restaurant, Café St. Petersburg, to Newton Center, MA. Café St. Petersburg celebrates the aristocratic age in Russian dining and décor. The restaurant is elegantly decorated in shades of gold and cream, with glittering chandeliers and white pillars. Meals are served in the old tradition with live Russian music in the background and whole bottles of vodka placed right on the table. The menu of traditional Russian dishes come from recipes handed down through generations of the Slezinger family, making Café St. Petersburg cuisine some of the most authentic you will find. Borscht and Beef Stroganoff are the favorites, but the Pozharski Chicken Cutlet and Siberian Pelmeni (meat raviolis) have received rave reviews. Café St. Petersburg is popular in certain circles and often frequented by visiting Russian politicians, artists, actors and musicians. It is also a popular wedding venue, offering family style meals. Café St. Petersburg provides the best of an era long gone but not forgotten.
Russian fast food? Vostok Dumpling House in Seattle, WA has created a concept not often seen with this type of cuisine. Their menu specializes in two kinds of Russian dumplings that can be prepared with a variety of sauces and signature styles (try the Rocky IV). Other menu items include traditional Borscht soup, Red Cabbage or Carrot Salad, Russian Fries, Bread and dessert. You order at the counter, including draft beer if you so choose. Seating is sparse, designed for quick lunches. But what you get is nothing short of spectacular. Everything on their simple menu is made fresh daily, including their pillowy dumplings hand-cut and stuffed from homemade dough. They only make a certain amount each day, so the early bird definitely gets the worm, or in this case, the dumpling. Vostok Dumpling House has made quite a name for themselves with their unique concept and delicious dumplings.
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Kachka in Portland, OR is not the typical ornate Russian restaurant we have come to expect. What they offer is a great “Ruskie Zakuski Experience” in comfortable surroundings, the like of which we have never seen. If you chose to start your meal off this way, in true Russian fashion they will cover your table with plates of cold Zakuski which consists of dishes like assorted pickles, blinis, caviar and roe, and Kachka’s famous Herring “under a fur coat” – a unique Russian seven-layer dip served as a salad. And, of course, to truly enjoy this unique adventure, the vodka and the toasts must flow freely. Kachka’s other offerings include Hot Zakuski, Russian dumplings, and a small selection of entrees. While staying true to their Russian heritage, the owners of Kasha have put their own spin on several of these Russian staples, to turn out some amazing dishes. Kachka’s simple, but exceptional Russian dining really hits the mark.
Perhaps the most iconic and certainly the most worthy of a spot on our list is the Russian Tea Room in New York City. Celebrating their 89th year, The Russian Tea Room offers a unique experience not found anywhere else. Walking in to this grand, gilded space is like being transported to the beautiful kremlins of Moscow and St. Petersburg. Each room of this restaurant and event space is beautifully appointed and dazzling to the eye with amazing detail. The menu encompasses all the traditional Russian dishes served in eye pleasing presentation. Peasant dishes such as Beef Stroganoff and Red Borscht Soup are given the same fine cuisine treatment as delicacies like caviar. The Russian Tea Room also serves a popular brunch and their renowned Afternoon Tea. The Russian Tea Room was founded by members of the Russian Imperial Ballet and has remained a favorite with those involved with the arts, including a bevy of famous actors, and the powerful business crowd. The Russian Tea Room is a little slice of Russian heaven right here in the U.S.
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