Russian Delicacies and a Little Bit of Sinatra
Russia Samovar, the elegant, 100-seat eatery in the heart of the theater district, has been distinguishing itself as one of New York’s premier nightspots for over three decades.
Founded in 1986 and previously co-owned by ballet legend, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Nobel Prize winner for poetry, Joseph Brodsky, its 19th-century feel, complete with Russian folk prints and green and red shades, has become an epicurean epicenter for discerning patrons from every walk of life, along with many famous Russian poets and writers who continue returning for an exceptional dining experience second to none.
Russian Samovar is well known for its 25 flavored vodkas, including ginger, horseradish, lemon, and cranberry, along with mouthwatering appetizers. Selections range from Beluga and Ostera caviar; Blini (crepes) filled with salmon or caviar; Assorted Fish Platter complete with in-house cured salmon gravlax with dill, smoked Atlantic salmon, and smoked butterfish; Vol-au-Vent, a wild mushroom puff pastry; traditional Borscht; and Pelmeni Stroganoff, a veal and chicken dumpling dish with sirloin tips in a creamy mushroom sauce.
The restaurant also serves a theater prix-fixe menu, available Monday through Friday until 7 p.m. The ideal spot before or after a show, you can get a 10 percent discount on all food items simply by presenting your ticket from any Broadway show. These include appetizers like Olivier Salad and Eggplant Caviar; entrées such as Roasted Duck and Beef Stroganoff; and a choice of Smetannik Cake or ice cream for dessert. Guests can also enjoy an expertly prepared pre-dinner cocktail at the bar such as the Russian Beauty, featuring raspberry puree and crisp Prosecco, or a martini made with any flavor of Russian Samovar’s house-infused vodkas.
Currently owned by Roman Kaplan and managed by his daughter Vlada Von Shats and her two sons, another major draw of Russian Samovar’s 256 West 52nd Street location is its deeply entrenched show business roots. Besides currently being a mecca for Russian writers and poets, it was also the former site of Jilly’s—the eponymous celebrity watering hole once owned by Frank Sinatra’s friend and former bodyguard, Jilly Rizzo. In fact, the chairman of the Board held many personal concerts there, along with spending time with the Rat Pack and playing countless games of baccarat.
Today, the tradition continues due to singers like Liza Minnelli and Cyndi Lauper, who still occasionally drop in for an impromptu performance. Since Russian Samovar also attracts many musicians, actors, and writers from Russia (and all over the world), a classically trained pianist performs nightly and poetry readings are held throughout the year. There’s also live interactive theater, performances by opera singer Michael Peer, the Gypsy Fun Trio playing traditional music on the violin and guitar on Fridays and Saturdays, and a Jazz Blues Brunch on Sundays featuring the Uptown Jazz Company.
For more information, visit www.russiansamovar.com