We are greeted at the door by a pair of well-turned-out hostesses who lead us to our table at the edge of the action – not too near the food so that we’re picking at the starters all afternoon and not too near the stage so that we can hold a conversation even as the entertainment reaches its peak decibels.
We find the allure of oysters impossible to ignore so head straight for that station and have our fill of some of the wonderfully fresh molluscs and soon head back for more. Oysters aside, the starters consist primarily of a solid selection of salads – the Russian, as you’d expect, being the best – as well as some cold cuts, flavoursome crab claws, tartare and some very tasty seafood crêpes.
After this impressive start, we hope to be blown away by the mains, especially as we’d heard such good things about the culinary creativity of head chef Maksim Tvorogov. We’re told to give the kitchen staff a 15- to 30-minute warning so they can cook our mains to order, so decide to grab one of the comfy seats in the elegant bar area and enjoy a few tracks from the excellent pianist as our starters digest.
Within five minutes of sitting down, our waitress tracks us down to tell us that our mains have been prepared (without our asking) and are already on the table. Almost in an instant we’d gone from a relaxed, care-free feeling to one of being unnecessarily hurried. Obediently, though, we return to our table to find a range of sharing dishes.
We’d been looking forward to trying out some authentic Slavic dishes, especially given their relative scarcity in Dubai. However, we’re mildly disappointed to find some offerings you could find almost anywhere. Okay, the chicken fritters are Russian, but beef medallions and sea bass? Yes, they’re all perfectly palatable but where’s the flair? Even a stroganoff would’ve satiated our Slavic food cravings.
The desserts manage to lift our mood a little, as do the Russian dancers who arrive as we return to the bar area to tuck into our sweets.
But despite the gracious nature of the staff, it’s hard to ignore that abiding feeling of being rushed, especially given that what we rush for is a tad underwhelming. The Bottom Line A stylish Saturday shindig with some cracking seafood, tempered by some overzealous timekeeping.