The Best and Worst Restaurants of 2013

I feel like I spent all my dinners out eating in Eastern European and other post-Soviet restaurants this year! As is now the tradition, here’s a summary of the places I reviewed, rated on a scale from 0 to 10, and grouped into three categories: recommended (rating > 6), not worth a special visit (rating between 5 and 6), and avoid (rating < 5). While I usually mention decor and service in my posts, only the food is being graded.

Best and Worst Restaurants - 2013

Drawing by G. Valk

2013 was the year of the Manhattan restaurants. Call me lazy, but I figured I might as well review some of the eateries closer to home before venturing too often to Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay. The conclusion is that they tend to be better than their Brooklyn neighbors (with one exception that’s so blatant that it can only confirm the rule). This doesn’t really come as a surprise: a restaurant can’t hope to survive long among more discerning diners if it’s got average food and poor service, especially when there are a dozen other joints within a one-block radius. Not that Outer Borough restaurants can’t rate well — look at #1 Uzbek Palace. Continue reading

Happy Holidays 2013!

Dear readers,

I wish you all happy holidays! I’m leaving for a 10-day trip to Scotland — no Eastern Europe this time, and even my prospects for a Russian restaurant look very slim. But if you’re still looking for ideas for your dinner parties, or you want to use your time off to try some of my more time-consuming recipes, here are some recommendations from my 2013 posts…

Happy Holidays 2013

Continue reading

The Russian Food Blog

Many of you have probably noticed by now that this is a Russian food blog. But it never hurts to state the obvious once in a while. And to drive my point home, I just bought (note to Google: it spells Russian food blog).

So from now on, and until I get tired of spending my money on not-quite-random-yet-not-quite-necessary domain names, you can access all the contents of this blog using Like my About page: Or my reviews of Russian restaurants:

Let’s go through the recent posts that truly make this blog a Russian food blog, the Russian food blog, the blog of the Russian food…

Russian food - Russian Cuisine - Russian blog - Russian food blog

Continue reading

Cooking National Dishes for Ingredient Matcher

Ingredient Matcher is a new web site (and app) that offers to compare a list of ingredients you already have to its recipe database, in order to figure out what you can cook for dinner without having to go to the store. It’s so new, in fact, that it hasn’t even officially launched yet.

Belarusian National Dish - Draniki

While I would have a lot to say about offering recipes based on user inputs, what initially caught my attention was a series of contests that they recently started. In an attempt to gather recipes for the national dishes of all the countries in the world, the creators have been inviting food bloggers and other home cooks to submit their dishes for the illustrious title of Country Chef, plus some more material prizes.

Continue reading

Happy National Caviar Day!

That’s right, today is National Caviar Day. Once upon a time, New York City bars gave free caviar to their customers to keep them thirsty. Nowadays, of course, you’re unlikely to see restaurants handing over free spoonfuls of the black gold. Not even to mark today’s celebration (you can always try to persuade them; you never know…).

National Caviar Day

Continue reading

Liebster Award

Thanks to roodonfood for recently nominating me for the Liebster Award!  Wonder what this is about? Here are the rules:

  • Post 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Answer the 11 questions made by the person who nominated you.
  • Create 11 questions for the bloggers you pass the award to.
  • Choose 11 bloggers to pass the award to and mention them in your post.
  • Go to their blogs and let them know that they have been nominated.

Liebster Award

Let’s start with the random facts about myself:

Continue reading

The Food Perestroika Manifesto

When I started this blog over two years ago, I never took the time to write a mission statement. So I’ll kick off 2013 by fixing this. Here is the Food Perestroika manifesto! I’m also adding it to my About page.

The word perestroika may be forever associated with Mikhail Gorbachev’s reformation movement in the late eighties, but in Russian, it simply means reconstruction. To understand what it is that needs to be rebuilt, I suggest we start with a brief look at culinary history in the former Eastern Bloc.

Food Perestroika Manifesto

Continue reading

The Best and Worst Restaurants of 2012

Just like last year, here’s a summary of the restaurants I reviewed in 2012, grouped into two categories: recommended (rating > 6), and not worth a special visit (rating between 5 and 6). As a reminder, I usually mention decor and service in my posts, but only the food is being rated. Luckily, no establishment made it to the third category (avoid, rating < 5). My ratings, especially below the 7 mark, are generous — I’m sure most people would feel that there’s no point spending over an hour on the subway to eat somewhat average food, when you can get so much better in so many closer places in the city.

Unlike most Best of/Worst of NYC lists coming out these days, which concentrate on places that opened or were trendy this year, I just list places that I happened to visit.  A few of them did open in 2012, but it’s not that important.

You may notice that I reviewed significantly less restaurants this year, partly because my reviews became more thorough and required more visits, and partly because the 2011 round-up also included two months of 2010 reviews. I also started the year with two restaurant reports from Paris: La Maison Géorgienne and Boukhara. To make matters worse, Dacha has already closed, leaving many later customers with an aftertaste of bad service, watered-down vodka shots, and non-honored coupons.

Finally, I’ve published a number of Red Alerts that are well worth checking out: Almayass, Kutsher’s Tribeca, Moscow 57 Under The Tracks and Iron Curtain.

What restaurants would you like me to review 2013?

Continue reading