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Feb 1, 2008 06:48 AM

Russian Vodka Room: a review

I have eaten here a few times, most recently just the other night, and I wanted to post some opinions on here because I think it's worth checking out.

I don't know much about Russian food, so I don't claim to be an expert, but I have enjoyed everything I have eaten here and I think the prices are pretty reasonable.

Entering the space can be a bit unnerving, because it is very dark (no windows, either), packed full of people, and a large, sort of depressed-looking man plays piano in the corner. It's not what you would expect, and it's definitely unlike any other place I've been, but I sort of like that about it. The patrons are also very lively and seem to be enjoying themselves, so that's always a good sign (of course, they could just be drunk).

Although the Russian Vodka Room has the atmosphere of a bar/lounge, I think the food really stands on it's own.

I usually start off with the house-made horseradish infused vodka, and then move on to Chopin martinis. (For those of you who like Gibsons, myself included, the restaurant doesn't have pearl onions).

I think a must here is the salmon caviar platter. It arrives fairly quickly and it's a really generous amount of food, particularly for the price. You get about ten fluffy blinis, lots of sliced hard-boiled egg, chopped red onion, capers, and a large glass pot full of gorgeous, bright-orange beads of salmon roe. Also on the plate is a small silver dish of butter above a lit tealight.

The way I eat this is I put everything on the blini (egg, onions, capers, caviar), blanket the whole thing with a small spoonfull of melted butter, fold it slightly, and eat it almost like a very small taco. And it’s incredible.

It's hard to know what to order after this, but I usually go for the herring. Oddly, I'm not a huge fan of herring, but I've always enjoyed it here. It tastes almost like it has been pan-fried, or roasetd, and it is served alongside potatoes with crispy skin, salt, and lots of dill.

Usually by this time I just give in and get a second salmon caviar platter, but other night I branched out and tried a few new dishes: cold borscht, lamb shanks, and beef stroganoff with Kasha. I enjoyed everything, found the service to be friendly, and it's sort of fun to eat amongst all the drunken chaos that inevitably develops in the small space.

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  1. You've been hitting the preserved fish pretty hard as of late, huh? :) Thanks for all your excellent reviews!

    You really must try the smoked trout at RVR, especially with a few shots of horseradish vodka. Wow. The vegetarian caviar is also tasty.

    Sometime I'll have to try the lamb shanks. How were they?

    1. I looked on the website and this place looks so great! All the vodkas sound amazing. I have a new obsession with house made infused vodkas after going to Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

      Thanks so much!

      1 Reply
      1. re: doona

        I just had a laugh - not at you of course, but at the thought of BHSB being mentioned in any post related to the Russian Vodka Room. They are possibly as far different as two "restaurants" can be.

      2. It's been a while since I had it, but the horseradish infused vodka is rough. A few friends and I used to go there fairly regularly. We always went with the ginger-infused vodka, as if was not kool-aid and not too harsh.

        I remember enjoying the food quite a bit.

        1. This is one of my favorite places to eat/drink in that area!!! I used to work just down the street many years ago and when it first opened my work friends used to gather there on Friday nights. You MUST try the potatoes with mushrooms, I don't know why it is so delicious, but it is...could be all the vodka. There is something very peculiar but very charming about this place, I absolutely agree.

          I've never tried the salmon/caviar platter, and it sounds amazing. You've given me a reason to want to go back soon! It's been a few months!