Russian Samovar: Russian Delicacies & House-Infused Vodkas With Live Art and Entertainment
In a city renowned for its ethnic restaurants, Russian Samovar is unique in its long-standing ties with the art community, and has become a home for many famous Russian poets and writers who keep coming back for the exceptional dining experience. Owned by Roman Kaplan and managed by his daughter Vlada Von Shats and her two sons Michael and Nicholas, this elegant, upscale establishment offers some of the finest Russian cuisine in New York. Located in the Theater District, Russian Samovar boasts a 19th-century feel, complete with picturesque green and red shades and Russian folk prints.
Russian Samovar was previously co-owned by ballet legend Mikhail Baryshnikov and Nobel Prize winner for poetry Joseph Brodsky. Jilly Rizzo, friend and bodyguard of Frank Sinatra, owned the establishment in the past, and Sinatra held many personal concerts there and often spent time with The Rat Pack, as well as games of baccarat. Cyndi Lauper and Liza Minnelli are also known to stop by and offer the odd performance. The restaurant keeps attracting several generations of Russians. In a cozy atmosphere they can eat their favorite Russian food, meet musicians, actors and writers from Russia and all over the world.
This elegant eatery is — aside from its authentic Russian dishes — known for its 26 flavored vodkas prepared in-house, including ginger, horseradish, lemon and cranberry. Delectable appetizers include Beluga and Osetra caviar, Blinis filled with salmon or caviar, the Assorted Fish Platter (in-house cured Salmon Gravlax with dill, Smoked Atlantic Salmon and Smoked Butterfish), Vol-au-Vent (a wild mushroom puff pastry), traditional Borscht, a Pate Russe laced with brandy, and Pelmeni Stroganoff, veal or chicken with sirloin tips in a creamy mushroom sauce.
It is its signature entrees, however, that have put Russian Samovar on the culinary map. House specialties include Shashlik Karski (rack of lamb marinated in Georgian spices), Beef Stroganoff, Veal Pojarksi (ground veal and breast of chicken cutlets), Chicken Kiev, Pelmeni (veal, beef and chicken dumplings), and Chicken Tabaka, a baby chicken split and grilled. Side dishes, such as marinated red cabbage, boiled or mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables, compliment the succulent entrees. For dessert, diners can relish in the Zapekanka (Russian cheesecake), the Soviet inspired Crème Brûlée, or the Medovik (layered honey cake), just to name a few.
In addition to its a la carte menu, the restaurant, which is perfectly situated by all the theater that Broadway has to offer, serves a Theater Pre-Fixe Menu, available Monday through Friday until 7:00pm. The ideal dining destination for a pre- or post-show bite, if you bring your ticket from any Broadway show, the restaurant will give you a 10% discount on all food items. Theater Pre-Fixe Menu items include Appetizers such as Olivier, Eggplant Caviar and Vinegret; Entrees including Roasted Duck, Grilled Salmon and Beef Stroganoffl; and a choice of Smetannik Cake or Ice Cream for Dessert. Enjoy an expertly prepared pre-dinner cocktail in the bar, such as the Royal Romance, featuring raspberry house-infused vodka, Grand Marnier and Frangelico, garnished with an orange peel.
Russian Samovar seats 100 in the dining room and 50 at the bar. Upstairs, the intimate St Petersburg Hall & Lounge, which caters to private parties, small dinners and events, comfortably seats 34 for sit-down dinner, and 100 for standing buffet. Designed by Felix Zbarski and Yuri Kuper, the lounge houses Kaplan’s extraordinary collection of samovars. The club-like feel is evident in the oak floors, shellacked with a warm gray/gold veneer. A three-tiered Banquet Menu is offered for private events, featuring a selection of the restaurant’s most favored dishes.
Since the restaurant attracts many creative guests, poetry readings are held throughout the year and a classically trained pianist performs nightly. Russian Samovar features live interactive theatre every Thursday with award-winning actors, performance from Opera Singer Michael Peer on Mondays, Gypsy Fun Trio playing traditional Russian music on violin and guitar on Fridays and Saturdays, and Jazz Blues Brunch on Sundays 3:00pm — 7:00pm with the Uptown Jazz Company. The restaurant continues to be a major supporter of the art community.