Cafe Sim Sim
Finally made it to this Kensington eatery on Ditmas Ave the other night. Totally worth a visit if you don't feel like going all the way to Brighton Beach or Rego Parkistan.
Bread was hot and fresh, lobio was good, as was, surprisingly, a caesar salad. Is caesar salad a russian thing?
had the recommended potatoes with chanterelles ("Best dish on earth," said the waitress) but found it greasy. And those mushrooms are definitely not chanterelles.
Better were the fries that came with the kabobs. Lamb lulya kabobs were excellent.
Service was very friendly, vodka was cold, and the big birthday party with hired crooner that took up most of the room only added to the festive air.
This restaurant is not kosher, but the only pork i saw on the menu was a pork neck kabab, which I didn't try.
Unfortunately, didn't see a sweetbreads kabob, so will still have to hike up cheburchnaya for that.
Had a great dinner at Cafe Sim Sim last night in a group of six. We brought our own wine. The restaurant was extremely slow but we didn't mind too much because our waitress was very sweet and it was fun taking our time with each new plate that came out of the kitchen. We had lots of appetizers -- the best dolmas I've had, filled with minced lamb, delicious eggplant salad, interesting red bean salad, pickled trout with a delicious yogurt dill sauce, and bread. Dinner was a combination of lamb kabobs, lamb lulya (minced lamb kabobs), lamb chops, beef kabobs, and the starring dish of the night, sturgeon kabobs and Sevruga sturgeons kabobs. Both sturgeons were fantastic, and came with a tomato-pomegranate sauce. We also had the potatoes with chanterelles (apparently the true identity of these mushrooms are in dispute) but we found them rich and delicious. When the old guy took up the microphone to croon, the music got turned up pretty loud but it was kind of charming. We spent about three hours at the restaurant. The total bill with a 20% tip was $135 -- about $23/person. And we were really happy with our dinner.
my experience at cafe sim sim was a mixed bag. on a saturday night, other than 2 big parties, we were the only table in there. it took forever to be acknowledged and given a menu, which turned out to be an omen re: the service for the night. our server was totally frazzled, as it turns out because, there was some sort of huge delivery order she was dealing with.
we felt for our server, but i think we would have felt even better, had we brought along a bottle of schnapps to do shots in between the looooong waits for food. speaking of which, to start we tried the eggplant salad and the kidney bean salad, with an order of bread to go with them--the eggplant salad was decent, (we definitely needed that bread for dipping) but nothing i think we'd rush to order again--there was some sort of lingering spice we couldn't quite pin point--we preferred the kidney bean salad, which was simple, but good--next up, we had the grapeleaves--i think there are 2 kinds on the menu--cold with rice, and the one we got, served warm and stuffed with lamb, topped with a yogurt-like sauce--we liked this one a lot--then we tried "kutabi" which as it turns out, is sort of like a quesadilla--filled with either ground lamb or greens. we tried both (for $1.50 per order we figured we couldn't go wrong)--the green version was really good--it was hard to figure out what sort of greens they were, but they had a distinct flavor. the lamb was nice too. finally, we shared an order of the lamb lulya kebabs--this was ground lamb cylinders, each encased in a tortilla like wrapping, topped with raw onion, and sprinkled with sumac. they came with an order of fries, that seemed like they were house-made.--in a good way-though they could have been crispier-this dish was served with a spicy - tomatoey sauce, like ketchup, but not quite.
overall, i'd be curious to try other menu items, but the meal took way too long to be served. we had our 7-year with us, who thankfully, was pretty patient, but that's not always the case.... and the whole experience really got to be almost comic, especially with the singer, singling loudly to an almost empty room--as for the food, it was quite good, but we felt like we ordered way too many ground lamb dishes and that after awhile they began to taste the same--so if we dare go back (and risk the hours long wait for food), we'd try some non-lamb dishes--
We've been to Sim Sim a lot -- we really like it! I'm glad someone else has finally posted about it.
We recently discovered that they have amazing borscht. I would like to get around to trying their other soups as well.
I also really like the eggplant salad and the lamb's tongue salad. (I think the lobio is better at Kavkaz on CIA)
Also not to be missed are the kutabi. Both versions (with greens and with lamb) are good. Kutabi is a thin flatbread/pancake folded in half around a filling and pan-fried. And at $1.50 each, quite a bargain!
I think the lamb lulya are the best of the kabobs, and I like the dill french fries that come with them.
I really have a soft spot for the potatoes with chanterelles, though I agree that they are quite greasy. I would describe them as diner potatoes on steroids, in a good way. I always order them and usually take most of them home for breakfast. I have often wondered about the "chanterelles" though. Do you think they are oyster mushrooms? Or maybe some kind of marinated mushroom imported from russia? Maybe chanterelles are really common and cheap there.
Desserts are awful.
Oh - and you can BYOB with no corkage fee.