Tag Archives: caviar

Russian Tea Room

My wife and I popped in here with a deal we got on Groupon for a six vodka- and four blini- tasting.

Here are the vodkas we tried, in order of how I liked them:

Imperia
Zyr
Jewel of Russia
Karlssons Gold
Khortytsa

We also had Jewel of Russia Wild Berry as our sixth, but I don’t really count that as a true vodka since it is heavily flavored. It tasted more like a port.

We did two salmon and two trout blinis. The blini was buckwheat, and soft, with a generous amount of sour cream, some chopped boiled eggs, onions and the caviar. We both liked the salmon better.

White fish was also available on the Groupon but we passed on that one.

Overall this was a nice snack. Glad we did it. Just hanging out for a while in the dining room itself is worth the price of admission. So opulent and nice inside.

RUSSIAN TEA ROOM
150 W 57th St
New York, NY 10019

Petrossian

NOTE: THIS JOINT IS NOW CLOSED (for renovations)

Occasionally you come across a meal that changes the way you view particular food items. I’m a steak man. Clearly, this is known. I’ve eaten hundreds of cuts in my endeavor to find the best that NYC has to offer. I thought I’d pretty much seen it all in the world of steak. What else could there be, aside from some aged wagyu, or something completely ridiculous and rare? But just when I was starting to get a little bored and comfortable with my favorite food, Petrossian Chef Richard Farnabe came through with a completely unique and utterly genius steak offering.

Photo from www.therestaurantfairy.com
Photo from www.therestaurantfairy.com

The cut itself is something with which we steak aficionados are familiar; a 28-day, dry-aged strip loin (NY Strip). This lean cut hails from Four Story Hill Farm in PA. But Chef Richard’s preparation is what sets it apart from the panoply of great meats in the city of this cut’s namesake; it’s cooked to a perfect medium rare all the way through, and topped with bone marrow and caviar.

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Caviar? Why would someone do that, you ask? Well, having eaten it, I have a hypothesis: The natural brine and salt content in the caviar compliments the aged taste of the meat in a tremendous way. Aged beef has a certain flavor profile to it – earthy, funky, and highly concentrated. The caviar, being naturally salty and funky in its own right, is the perfect pairing with this kind of meat. It helps bring out those aged characteristics while also providing a juicy pop and briny burst to each bite.

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And, as you might expect, the marrow adds some nice fat flavor and texture back into the lean cut of beef. It really is a brilliant conception. In my opinion this is probably one of the best strip steaks you can find in town. 10/10.

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It’s accompanied by a semi-raw, ice cold asparagus salad. This adds some acidity and fresh green flavors to the meal, deftly balancing the punch you’re getting from the steak.

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And that’s not the only beef I tried. On the appetizer menu, they offer A4 wagyu topped with grilled sturgeon.

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This comes with a pickled quail egg and some caviar as well, along with a little crispy potato cube. When eaten together (beef and fish), you are experiencing that same beautiful pairing of earth and sea, one enhancing the other. The sturgeon had a flavor that was reminiscent of a good, Japanese style grilled eel. The slightly candied or caramelized, almost sweet top coating on the sturgeon pulled out a lot of those rich beef fat flavors from the steak. Another 10/10. For the record I believe this was sliced strip loin, but since it’s A4 wagyu, I will include it in my “other cuts” section for catalog purposes.

Now that I’ve gotten the most important things out of the way, let me briefly discuss the remainder of the meal. After all, the rest was just as impressive as the meats reviewed above. Even the table bread and drinks were nice.

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Petrossian explores elements of both classic French cuisine and Russian/Eastern European cuisine, and there is a healthy presence of caviar and smoked fish in the dishes, aside from having a robust stand-alone caviar menu. The starting amuse, for example, features both French technique and Russian cuisine, along with both caviar and smoked fish.

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What exactly are you looking at here? Three items.

(1) The lollipops are smoked salmon with cream cheese foam dipped in beet foam to make a shell;

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(2) The cubes are savory caviar marshmallows;

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(3) The spheres are chocolate foie gras truffles with gold leaf.

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These concise, decadent and dynamic bites set the tone for the entire meal. Petrossian is truly one of the few great places to indulge and splurge with a high quality meal where it’s actually worth the money, and where there is no pretense, no elitism and no unnecessary vegetable worship.

The next item that came out was a terrine-like foie gras brulee with smoked sturgeon and a pomegranate Guinness drop. It came with a little bread puff but I really enjoyed this by itself.

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The Guinness drop was spun sugar and candy-like in flavor and texture, and the foie brulee was rich, creamy and deeply flavorful.

My wife’s starter was the Petrossian sampler, which contained various smoked fish items and caviar. Everything I tasted on this plate was delicious in addition to being beautifully presented.

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Her entree was a special: baby pig, which consisted of an assortment of meats from the animal, including kidney, ear, rib, and crispy skin. There was also a croquette and crispy hash made from the meat as well. I tasted a bit of everything, thankfully, because I definitely would have ordered this if the steak wasn’t on the menu.

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In particular, I really liked the kidney, which was skewered on a sprig of rosemary. That little touch of presentation/technique added a great roasted herb flavor to the meat. Absolutely outstanding. It almost reminded us of Japanese yakitori.

Our sides were sumac pomme souffle, which were like little puffed potato chips, and a bowl of sauteed wild mushrooms with herbs.

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These items went perfectly with our meat courses.

Dessert was a lot of fun as well. We had beignets with a multitude of injectable sauce bulbs, and a smoked wood ice cream chocolate ball, which was covered in chocolate sauce at table side.

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The beignets were very light and crisp, and my favorite sauce was the pistachio. The chocolate ball was rich, creamy and decadent. Really smooth and tasty.

And then these little guys came out with the check: chocolate truffles and marshmallow cubes, both plated on a bed of dark chocolate morsels.

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With Chef Richard at the helm, Petrossian has skyrocketed back into NYC’s short list of high end restaurants that discerning diners simply must experience at least once. I was extremely impressed.

PETROSSIAN
182 West 58th St
New York, NY 10019

Olma Caviar Boutique & Lounge

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS NOW CLOSED

My buddy Jay, from The Dishelin Guide, invited me to this pretty cool caviar tasting press meal at Olma Caviar Boutique & Lounge on the upper west side. This joint has a small bar counter in the Plaza Hotel, so this location is a spot where you can stretch out and relax with some champagne at the bar or in the spacious, bright dining room before the lounge atmosphere kicks in.

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This place offers an eight blini tasting of caviar for $55, which covers every type of caviar they offer.

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That’s a pretty sweet deal, considering that just one blini of the Beluga will run you $32, and one blini of the Karat is $22. Those two bites alone cover the cost of the eight, so the other six are essentially free. Crazy bargain!

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My favorite of the eight was the Karat, which was a bit more briny and salty than the others without going too far.  My next favorite was Beluga, which was so freaking smooth and creamy. I now understand why people go crazy over this shit. Save for the salmon, I didn’t really pick out too many differences in flavor, aside from the fact that I did like the Siberian and White Sturgeon better than the others.

We also put down a smoked salmon lox sandwich with tomato, arugula and cream cheese. It was served on a nice toasty and warm piece of French baguette. Absolutely delicious.

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I’d definitely hit this place again, and it’s a perfect place for a date.

OLMA CAVIAR & BOUTIQUE LOUNGE
420 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10024