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Rasputin, NYC


Rasputin
Cuisine: Russian, Global Fusion
Neighborhood: Brooklyn
Price: $100 minimum per person
Phone: (718) 332-8111
Address: 2670 Coney Island Avenue, NYC 11235

Prior to last summer, my only ventures into the microcosm of Brighton Beach have been with my family. The neighborhood gets its nicknames of “Moscow on the Hudson” and “Little Odessa” for a reason — there’s no way you can get around or procure information/food/drink without basic knowledge of Russian. You will also stick out like a sore thumb unless you wear a combination of leather jacket with Adidas tracksuit accessorized with a gold chain and dress shoes or the shiniest, glitziest fabrics known to man.

So last July, equipped with overconfidence and despite the facts mentioned above, I took a group of non-Russian friends to the place on Brighton that “started it all” — Tatiana. And by “it all,” I am referring to: Moulin Rouge meets Red Square. Burlesque meets pop. French chanson meets Cirque du Soleil. And the Russian kitchen meets global cuisine. After Tatiana, many similar restaurant-clubs sprung up around Brighton Beach, including Rasputin. Rasputin allegedly is the place “where all the cool kids hang out,” so naturally our next expedition to the Russian world was going to be there.

Because of the otherwise nondescript buildings on Coney Island Avenue, Rasputin was impossible to miss. The double headed eagle from the Russian coat of arms protruded saliently from the awning above the heavy metal double doors. It was actually a bit intimidating to enter this little parallel universe. Inside, we were shocked by just how gargantuan this space was. There were two levels of seating, with a stage in the middle and an additional stage at the back of the restaurant, raised above the first level of tables. The lighting was purple neon, as we could have expected from our visit to Tatiana. The tables were meticulously set with starched white table cloths, ornate China with the Rasputin logo, and leather bound menus offering à la carte and prix fixe delicacies ranging from French cuisine to Sushi to familiar Russian dishes.

I ordered à la carte for the table — a smorgasbord of the more Russian dishes, since we were there to taste Russian cuisine. Admittedly the choices were paltrier than at Tatiana, and the food was not as good. But the dishes were still extravagant, hearty, and satiating. For the beverage, we went with our trusty choice of Beluga vodka.

Cow Tongue with Aubergine Salad
Cow tongue is not for everyone. But I am neither grossed out by the texture nor do I find the flavor displeasing. I like the grainy outside texture and a bit of chewiness. Plus the horseradish adds a little bit of fire to the appetizer.

Smoked Fish Platter
I am a huge fan of smoked fish and meat, but often people outside of Russia and Scandinavia are not. Shame on them because it is fantastic. This fish was melt-in-your-mouth juicy and had the perfect amount of salty smokiness. The dish is actually most perfectly complemented by beer, but we committed to just vodka from the start and stayed loyal.

Blinchiki with Caviar
I used to really dislike caviar — it seemed fishy and the bursting nature of the little fish eggs disgusted me. Now I find it amazing, specifically for those reasons. And the caviar goes especially well with the sweet dough of the blin/blinchik, essentially a Russian version of a crêpe.

Homestyle Potatoes with Mushrooms
Similar to the potatoes I made at home, always hearty and delicious

Pelmeni
Essentially these are dumplings with meat, served with dill and sour cream. Nothing served with sour cream can taste bad. Period.

Lambchops
The meat tore off the bone so easily and was perfectly juicy. The onion rings added a kick of flavor.

Baked Fish
Flaky and light, just how fish should be.

Beluga Vodka
Nuff said.

The show also did not disappoint. There were trapeze girls, walking dead, dancers, singers — the works. The dance floor was also popping.

And the icing on the cake — the photographer who walked around taking photos of all the tables. One of our friends snapped up a few of the professional photos — a timeless souvenir that now graces Jen’s and my bookshelf.

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Comments
One Response to “Rasputin, NYC”
  1. rachel says:

    oh how i wish so many times the DC area had as much variety as NYC does. i’m jealous there are so many options of really really different types of cuisine there. i’m one willing to try almost anything, and the blinchiki w/caviar sounds extra interesting to taste!

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