Varenichnaya in Brighton Beach, Russian
Made it out to Brighton Beach yesterday, and found this little gem of a Russian restaurant on 2nd Street.
As a previous poster has noted they have some of the best Vareniki in the city, melting in your mouth, thin dough, tasty fillings. I had the ones with mushroom and potatoes, and bf had the boiled meat ones. Both came with clarified butter and the traditional golden brown onions on top. I am a big fan of Pierogis, but this very similar dish beats all the Pierogis I've had in New York.
Next came a bowl of Pelmeni, dumplings that can be ordered with or without a tasty broth: The Siberian meat Pelmeni proved to be an absolute winner. Again, a silky layer of dough, and a very flavorful meat stuffing floating in a clear broth flavored with fresh dill.
The condiments on the table included a chunky tomato "salsa" like concoction, and a little white vinegar dispenser loaded with pickled vegetables, like onions, carrots, celery, dill. Visually pleasing, and a very nice touch, if you want to add some extra zest to the already well seasoned dishes.
The lamb kebab came on a long skewer, and a side of rice. That's where the tomato salsa sprung into action, and the result was good.
Looking around the small room, which holds about 8 tables and is decorated with kitschy Russian paintings, we saw mostly Russian customers, obviously delighted with their food - the pilafs seem to be very popular - and the very sweet owners keeping a keen eye on everything. There is Russian music playing in the backgound.
Finishing the meal with cherry Blintez (like Polish Blintzes), it turned out that the cherry version was filled with dried marinated in brandy sour cherries, rather than the Polish version of gooey pie filling. They were a little on the dry side, and could have actually been an appetizer as well as a dessert, because of the lack of sweetness.
The cost of a 5 dish meal for two (you can share most dishes, they are big), no drinks except for their home made compote, came to 29 $ before tip, astonishing.
Overall the meal was quite impressive, the service was nice, an unexpected afternoon treat in Brighton Beach.
I just went there with a friend today. We didn't speak any Russian but had good food and decent service: the Delicatesse Salad (eggplant with garlic), bread, 2 bowls of borsch, and the cabbage and the potato-mushroom vareniki. This along with 3 compotes came to about $43 before tip. We would have had enough without the soup. But everything was tasty. I highly recommend the eggplant, which has no tomato in it but is extremely flavorful. The vareniki were very delicate. Also found the compote quite satisfying on a hot day, light and not too sweet. And they do have air conditioning.
Exploring exotic Brooklyn, I followed my chow-senses to this place last week. Although the menu is in English, I also used the tried and true method of asking about things that looked good on neighboring tables.
Russian cuisine is not well represented in the Bay Area where I live, so I can't make a comparative judgement, but objectively the food was delicious. In addition to the pelmeni and vareniki, I also enjoyed one of the "salads." An article posted in the window also recommended their soup.