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Thread: Russian restaurant/bars...

  1. #1
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    Russian restaurant/bars...

    I went to Toronto (Ontario, Canada) on the weekend with my boyfriend and his sister, who are both Russian. We planned on going to a Russian restaurant called "Бармалеи Самовар" (Spelling?, and I'm curious as to how that name makes sense...) for dinner.

    We were really excited to have some good food..and were SO dissapointed!! The owners were from Georgia and their food was really disappointing. (According to Yuri, my boyfriend, the food was really average and just tasted like a meal you could cook at home.)

    The owner was very rude and refused to speak Russian, and the limited menu wasn't good at all...their 'Chicken Tabak' was chicken with BBQ sauce, and the Borsh tasted like Chinese won ton soup

    After this, we went to "Pravda", a Russian bar downtown. This place looked really nice, but we were disappointed here too. The owners were Bulgarian and said they didn't speak Russian. Yuri asked the DJ for Russian music, and he said 'we don't play Russian music on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday'.

    The decorations looked nice until we noticed that there was a statue of Lenin's head mixed in amongst the HUGE collection of Vodka bottles - which Yuri and Nadia found really disrespectful - and on one wall was a huge portrait of Lenin, across from it a collection of Orthodox depictions of Christ. Is that not contradictory?

    I'm wondering, for those of you living outside of Russia, are "Russian" establishments in your area like this? It seemed like they were just using Russian/Soviet culture as a gimmick for money making. How disapointing

    And, do you find any of these things offensive as we did? Or were we overreacting

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    I live in Russia and hope you don't mind me answering your question.
    But I understand the point of restaurant keepers. They had to feature the very recognizable symbols of Russia (recognizable for all foreigners). Such as Lenin, vodka, and eventually the icons. Pitty they didn't care of good food and warm welcome for you. And I think they shouldn't use the Ortodoxal (or any) icons, the Lenin's portraits and vodka bottles in the same decoration. It's just over the simple ethics.
    Я так думаю.

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    I think that's not really unusual at all. You went expecting an authentic experience. You're in the minority, though. Most people go to "exotic ethnic" restaraunts to be "tourists" and be entertained with "authentic" decor, atmosphere, and food. Leaving aside for a moment the practical difficulties of using original, unique ingredients, the people who run the restaurant quickly realize, that whatever their intentions, they have to run their place like part of Disney World, not a real Russian restaraunt. Thus, you have Lenin heads and Vodka bottles everywhere. It's not unique to the US either; even inside Russia they run such tourist dives. There was a place in SPb called "Lenin's Mating Call/ Зов Ленина" where they had a bunch of Lenin heads as decorations (in addition to huge quantities of P0ЯN0 magazines laying around). Ever been to a Japanese place and see them lighting stuff on fire or slashing it with swords? I'm willing to bet the average family in Tokyo doesn't eat that way. Ever seen those medieval places -- they have knights in armor running around? It's all a giant tourist show. That's all. Oh, and all restaraunts are "money-making gimmicks" of some sort. Otherwise no one would run them. It's a really brutal sector of the economy and they try to use every edge they can get.

    And yes, the icons in the bar are tasteless. The bottles of vodka and Lenin, I couldn't care less about. And they don't play the Russian music on weekends, probably so they can increase their appeal -- most people want to go here pop or dance music -- not kalinka 500 times. Otherwise, they'd just play Tetris.
    Заранее благодарю всех за исправление ошибок в моём русском.

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    Last week, while on vacation, I decided to visit a "Russian Vodka Bar" named Pravda. You go in, and there's a big sickle and hammer, along with a bunch of WWII propaganda posters (which were pretty cool, btw). However, nobody there spoke Russian. The closest I got was a Czech girl who moved here like 10 years ago. And for a Russian vodka, the selection was pretty disappointing - they just had basically every flavor of Stoli, plus the usual (absolut, skyy, grey goose, etc...). What really made me mad was the owner bought Zybrowka(sp?) for the employees to drink while working, but the patrons couldn't buy it!

    tdk

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    From my experience, it is rather hard to find a decent Russian restaurant in the western hemisphere. They are either terribly overpriced or food is bad or both. I've been asked not once to name a good Russian restaurant in Montreal, and every time I was embarrassed to say that I dont know any. There are a couple of places that are OK, and that's about it.
    I've got a TV, and I'm not afraid to use it

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barmaley
    And yes, the icons in the bar are tasteless. The bottles of vodka and Lenin, I couldn't care less about. And they don't play the Russian music on weekends, probably so they can increase their appeal -- most people want to go here pop or dance music -- not kalinka 500 times. Otherwise, they'd just play Tetris.
    What is wrong with Kalinka???????

    Besides, there is plenty of good Russian pop and dance music, so there should be no excuses.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kalinka_vinnie
    What is wrong with Kalinka???????
    I'm sorry, but I'm not a trained shrink, so I can't help you, Kalinka.
    Заранее благодарю всех за исправление ошибок в моём русском.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kalinka_vinnie
    Besides, there is plenty of good Russian pop and dance music, so there should be no excuses.
    Exactly. I was expecting to at the very least hear some TATU or something that is (slash was) somewhat mainstream like that. How sad.

    Barmaley, I'm mostly in agreement with you. Of course restaurants are all money making gimmicks of some sort, but if you put it on that level, so is almost every single establishment in our world, in one way or another. I'm beginning to realize that my expectations were a little unrealistic though...

    Well that's it for me...I've got an "authentic" Mexican club to open now. Now where did I put my sombrero...

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    I don't know about the youth in Russia right now, but I don't think TATU is very popular among people over 14

    On the subject, anybody know of any authentic, cheap and somewhat decent Russian restaurants in the SF/bay area?
    Hei, rett norsken min og du er død.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kalinka_vinnie
    but I don't think TATU is very popular among people over 14
    Are you refering to the singers or the МРщик? :P

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    Re: Russian restaurant/bars...

    Quote Originally Posted by Kimberloo
    After this, we went to "Pravda", a Russian bar downtown. This place looked really nice, but we were disappointed here too. The owners were Bulgarian and said they didn't speak Russian. Yuri asked the DJ for Russian music, and he said 'we don't play Russian music on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday'.
    Well...my Bulgarian friends don

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    We have (at least one, I haven't tried out the other ones yet) very good Russian restaurant in Brussels. No Lenin d
    Ой, голова у меня кружится |-P ...... and my brain hurts too....

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    I went to a Russian place in the "Embassy Row" area of Washington DC Spring of 1993. Lot's of Russian spoken there, I had NO CLUE at the time. The food was pretty good. I'll go back there the next time I visit so I can try the pelmeni. I made some last month, I want to see how good/bad I did.
    I'm easily amused late at night...

  14. #14
    JB
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    Go to Hollywood (Santa Monica Blvd and Fairfax). !00% Russian. Bars, clubs, cafes, stores,etc. all speak Russian and play up to date Russian music. There are even Russian babooshki on the sidewalks to yell at you for not dressing warmly.
    Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.

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