Russia House, situated in a grand structure at the corner of Connecticut and Florida in upper Dupont, is a spectacular departure from the Aleros and Subways nearby. Hello, red velvet curtains and chandeliers. Goodbye sunshine and humidity. You’re in Russia now, babe.
The first thing to strike is the darkness. Much more intense than the comparative darkness of just being inside on a sunny day, Russia House imbues the customer with a luxurious darkness, the kind that makes you want to read Arthur Conan Doyle and enjoy a nice warm stew. The first floor is set with small tables on a thick carpet.
The staff of attractive blondes in short black dresses attends to drink and food orders. If you don’t know your Russian vodkas (Russia House’s list goes on for two pages), hew closely to this advice: just order a Moscow Mule. Presented in a very tall and large chilled martini glass, the drink is made with vodka, ginger beer and lime. The refreshing taste and sheer volume make this the obvious drink of choice. But if you prefer, there are many other martini options, as well as imported Russian beers.
The food is also impressive. Since Russian cuisine is not one of my fortés, I sampled from the starters and was not disappointed. Pelmini, little pillows of veal and pork served in marsala cream with forest mushrooms, made me feel decadent and cultured. And I don’t know why I was surprised, but the Chicken Croquettes with Two Russian Salads were not spring greens but mayonnaise-based cold salads. Delicious and creamy, with crunchy croquettes finishing out the dish…equals yum.
While not a bargain by any means, Russia House delivers decadence without breaking the bank. But seriously, use a Groupon if you possibly can.
I don’t go in for being inside on a sunny day, but at Russia House, I could get behind the idea with the help of a martini and a small plate of labor intensive snackage.