(Russia) is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. – Winston Churchill (October, 1939)
Speaking of enigmas, is this place a night club or a restaurant? More importantly, will it ever get enough customers to justify whatever expense it took to convert the space from the Thai Room II, and is the food worth a trip to Las Vegas Blvd. South (beside The Bootlegger) to supp on some serious Soviet sustenance?
And finally, we’ve got to ask: Is Las Vegas clamoring for another Russian restaurant?
The answers are: We don’t know, we don’t know, a qualified “yes,” and probably not.
All we know is the place was an empty as a gambler’s soul when we had lunch with Mad Max Jacobson there over a week ago.
But the food was pretty darn tasty, if by “tasty” you mean it reminded us of the stuff we had in Leningrad and Moscow over thirty years ago. By that we mean it was earthy, elemental and rib-stickin’.
Jacobson found the stuffed chicken leg “nicely spiced,” when he dined here for his review, but when we dined together, we both found the forcemeat, and the chicken, dull and bland.
However, both soups – kharcho (a Georgian vegetable/meat concoction – Stalin’s favorite!) and borscht — tasted like they came straight from the Volga boatmen, and Chef Rima Leonaviciute does such an excellent job with her pelmeni (stuffed meat dumplings) that Slapsy Maxey and me could’ve made a meal of them.
Less successful was the strange, tomato-infused, pink stroganoff sauce blanketing strips of tender beef – heavy and not worth the calories. But the fresh fruit cup we shared was surprisingly all that, and just the antidote to all that sour cream and meat.
It’s a bit early to bet on the clientele who may yet popularize this place, but our money’s on thick-faced, stubby-fingered Russian mobsters squiring around six foot tall “models” with strange and indecipherable accents.
Our vodka-free lunch for two (with a ton of food) came to $57 + a fifteen dollar tip.
7700 Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 891233