Russia: The world’s most gastronomically challenged country

The New York Post agrees with our analysis of the horrifying deficiences of Russian “cuisine”:

It’s no shock that Nets buyer Mikhail Prokhorov celebrated the other day at Nello. The Madison Avenue joint’s overpriced food and underfed blondes are perfect for a bimbo-craving, globetrotting gazillionaire from the world’s most gastronomically challenged country.

Nello’s theoretically Italian, seasoning-shy Oligarch Cuisine attracts the kind of vagabonding clowns too eager to flaunt their ill-gotten gains — hedge-fund scoundrels, tainted politicians, dope-snorting movie stars. Plus, as Mr. Nello Balan once informed us in an ad he placed in this newspaper, “her royal majesty, the late Princess Diana,” Prince Andrew and Prince Albert of Monaco.

They can’t all be going there for the food, even if the joint’s organic guinea hen has more meat on it than some of the broads who hog the front tables.

But the place serves a purpose. Without Nello — and a handful of like-minded clip joints like Cipriani and Mr. Chow — there’d be no way for guys like Prokhorov to publicly throw dough around like it was disco dust.

In a town full of great Italian food at reasonable prices, there’s Nello’s $15 chicken soup, $38 prosciutto and melon, and $37 spaghetti carbonara.

When you can blow $5,000 on a bottle of Petrus — not necessarily higher than at some other Manhattan restaurants — you don’t have to sweat over little items on Prokhorov’s bill like $210 for three veal chops, $74 for two plates of tuna tartare and $825 for three plates of truffle tagliolini. (The bill doesn’t say if they were black truffles or white.)

The amazing thing is that Balan’s pasta parlor stays on his feet. Almost any other owner would have collapsed by now, after an endless series of fiscal woes.

In fact, Nello stands taller than ever on Madison Avenue — his major nearby competitor, beloved La Goulue, recently closed to make way for a new building, and Frederick’s folded after falling into bankruptcy.

But Prokhorov should be warned: You’re not in Vladivostok anymore. Now that you’re eating with the 8 million of us, we’ll be watching your every culinary step.

How about trying a really great Italian restaurant, if your system can handle it — like Marea, Il Mulino, Cellini, Babbo, Scarpetta and Esca, just for starters?

And since you’ll (presumably) be spending lots of time in Brooklyn, what about Di Fara, Bamonte’s, Queen and newly reopened Armando’s?

Some of them are pricey, but none will set you back $20 for common fried calamari. They might not be great places to show off, but who knows? If you’re serious about building the Nets that elusive new arena, you might need to save every cent you can.

22 responses to “Russia: The world’s most gastronomically challenged country

  1. What does the “analysis” of Italian restaurants in New York have to do with Russia, except that some Russian oligarch had a party there?

    > But Prokhorov should be warned: You’re not in Vladivostok anymore.

    That’s true: Vladivostok has the incredible variety of fresh fish and seafood, on par with Japan. Salmon caviar there is incredible and so are sushi. New York simply can’t match the freshness and variety of Vladivostok’s and Japan’s seafood.


    As I could discover, gastronomy in Vladivostok is a very eclectical one: not only russian food but japanese, chinese, italian, etc. I don’t really know if quality is a normal thing everywhere here, but the places I visited were fine all of them! Near Admirala Fokina I had dinner at a japanese restaurant, very clean and quiet, with good drink -good wine- and food. A thing I found amazing was something I saw here at every restaurants: despite the may be oriental, they are managed by russian people, over all russian women. If you see a japanese or a chinese man, he may be inside the kitchen or doing something specialized

    In sum, good food, good drinking, good service -despite once time more nobody seems to speak english here- and not very expensive prices.

    I like japanese tempura very much and this place didn’t dissapoint me.


    In any case, Prokhorov is from Moscow, thousands of miles from Vladivostok, and probably favours numerous French, Italian and Japanese restaurants in Moscow.

    Eating Out in Moscow, Russia: The Best Restaurants and Cafes

    Moscow has a huge variety of restaurants and cafes for every taste. The most popular at the moment are “trendy” pre-party cafes, while only a year ago Moscovitans were going through the “sushi frenzy”, which has now settled down.

    Normally, it is possible to have a good dinner for $15 per person, although it will go up to $30 and more if you choose a very popular place.

    • French Restaurants A selection of the best French restaurants in Moscow.

    • Italian Restaurants Pasta, carpaccio, and great pizzas. Most Italian restaurants in Moscow are expensive, but the food is always great.

    • Japanese Restaurants
    Currently very popular in Moscow, great selection of sushi and Japanese specialities.

    Moscow has a huge variety of restaurants and cafes for every taste. The most popular at the moment are “trendy” pre-party cafes, while only a year ago Moscovitans were going through the “sushi frenzy”, which has now settled down.

    And people with simple tastes can even go to various American restaurants:

    • American Restaurants. For king-size hamburgers, great cocktails, and huge tasty portions head to one of Moscow’s American restaurants. American restaurants in Moscow usually come in two categories: burger joints and steakhouses. The burger places are always a good option for a cheap feed while the steakhouses are pricey but have the best cuts of meat you’ll find in Russia’s capital.

    > Now that you’re eating with the 8 million of us, we’ll be watching your every culinary step.

    I am sure you will, as you have nothing better to do with your life than to enviously follow Prokhorov’s dining.

    • You really are an amazingly illiterate baboon.

      If you actually READ the piece, you’d know that THIS Italian restaurant is famous FOR SUCKING and being way overpriced, so that only an apelike Russian would be stupid enough to eat there.

      THAT’S what it has to do with it, you fool.

      And our prior post goes into great detail about the repudiation of Russian cuisine in New York City, where it has failed miserably.

      Your stupidity ought to embarrass anyone who truly wants Russia to succeed. With only you as her defenders, Russia looks like a truly bastardized nation.

      • That’s the whole point LR. He goes to that place not because of some superior food etc., but to impress others that he can afford burning money. You know the nuovo rich philosophy — it is not worth to be rich unless others know about it.

        I suspect he does not know any difference between ravioli and tortelini and probably all pasta is “macaroni” to him anyway. What do you expect, a barbarian will remain a barbarian, with or without money, especially if the money are from criminal activities.

    • Yes, we know, we know — in addition to its incomparable and superior “culture” and science, and technology, Russia is also home to the very best food and restaurants in the whole world.

      Move over, Paris, what are you doing here, Milan, who are you, New York or San Francisco, or Rome? Make room for Moscow and Vladivostok, that what the whole world is craving, to have their restaurants.

      Are you happy now Michael? You have won, we are worn down after reading a million of your inane posts.

      • I live in San Francisco, so I have no problem. When I visit Moscow, I also have great food, be it beluga caviar with blini for breakfast, or smoking (live) sturgeon or roasting quails for home-made dinner, or going to great restaurants. Russia has no monopoly on great food, but you can eat like a king (or a Czar) when you live there, if oyu know what to buy and where to eat.

        If a person says: “There is no good food in country X”, it is more of a reflection on his own inabilities than on those of country X.

        The reason why Eastern and Central Europe gets bad responses from many Americans is because they just don’t know what to look for in food.

  2. Interestingly, if it does suck the irony is that of all world cuisine, Italian is probably the easiest to make!

  3. > THIS Italian restaurant is famous FOR SUCKING and being way overpriced, so that only an apelike Russian would be stupid enough to eat there.

    First of all, Prokhorov is the 40th richest man in the world according to the 2009 Forbes list with an estimated fortune of $9.5 billion. [1] So, why would this notorious playboy care about the restaurant being overpriced (which it is)?

    Second, Prokhorov is just one man, and his stupid behaviour reflects on the average Russians no more than the behaviour of Donald Trump or various other notorious American “celebrities” reflects on average Americans.

    Third, if “only apelike Russian ate there”, Nello would have gone broke long time ago. I am sure that tens of thousands of “non-apelike” Americans and Europeans have gone there too, e.g.:

    Nello… with its Zagat’s food rating of 18 (very good) commands Hermès-scale prices. Around 2 p.m. on Tuesday, the crowd overflowed past its cheery outdoor tables. Upper East Side blondes sipping Bellinis, and tanned men in dark sunglasses murmuring in indeterminate European accents.

    Stars, like models, are a frequent presence. Celebrity sightings in recent years have included Robin Williams, Sean Penn, Mike Piazza, Julian Schnabel and David Hasselhoff, LeRoy Neiman… . “It’s not a restaurant known specifically for food, wine or service,” said the impresario behind Nobu and Tribeca Grill, themselves frequent Page Six subjects. “It’s a restaurant known for the number of times it’s been mentioned in the gossip columns.”

    If Russians are “apelike” just because a Russian man named Prokhorov likes to go to this “gossip column” place, then can’t you say the same about Americans just because Robin Williams, Sean Penn, Mike Piazza, Julian Schnabel and David Hasselhoff go there?

    To each his own. If I were filthy rich, I wouldn’t go to Nello with it’s mediocre food. I would go to 3-Michelin-star restaurants in Paris and Tokio. Or eat foi gras and white truffles. Or I would eat Russian beluga caviar with Russian blini and French champagne. But I am a gourmet and a foodie. Prokhorov, Williams, Penn, Piazza, Schnabel and Hasselhoff obviously aren’t. They go for notoriety, not food.

    You quest for publishing everything silly that any Russian does, is a bit overdrawn, isn’t it?

  4. RV wrote:

    > To my tastes anyway

    That’s the operative word here: taste. Everybody has his own taste, and what is heaven for one person, is poison to another.

    LR wrote:
    > > THIS Italian restaurant is famous FOR SUCKING

    I am sure some think it sucks, but others think it’s great. Tastes differ, you know.

    You seem to have hated their food. What did you have when you went there?

    Or are you saying that you don’t like their food even though you haven’t been there?

  5. We can take a look at their menu:

    In my view, this menu is highly uninspired. For example, the only use of truffles is in truffle oil. No fresh real truffles!

    I use truffle oil in my everyday cooking, because that’s what is available in American supermarkets, but expensive restaurants should be able to use real truffles imported from Italy. Other great fungii, like porcini and morels, are also absent from this menu.

    But, as i said, I am a foodie and know great foods from around the world. I can go to any country (maybe outside of Central Africa) and have mind-blowingly good food each time.

    • Yes, a plate of broccoli for $15 is nuts! As is a Tuscan peasant salad for $21. They must be some rich peasants those Tuscans!

      • > They must be some rich peasants those Tuscans!

        Well, maybe the Tuscan peasants get a “paisano” discount?

        But the prices are truly mind-boggling, given that the menu is worse than Olive Garden’s.

        All these lettuce-type veggies for $20+ bucks. And for $40 bucks you can have:

        Lobster Bisque velouté of lobster, lobster tail, florida lump crabmeat

        Do you know what lump crabmeat is? If you are too poor to buy real crab, you buy foul-tasting lump crabmeat in a can.

        • Lump Crabmeat?! Really! Whoa, I must be really down and out, since I’ve been known to pick up those fake crab legs made out of fish but flavored to taste like the ‘real’ thing! Lol!

  6. I’ve never been to Vladivostock, but I cannot imagine a scenario where the food there would be any less appalling than in every other city across Russia.

    Let’s face it Michael, you’d be less likely to get sick in Russia drinking the semi-poisonous water from the tap than you would eating what passes for food there. Russia’s the only country I’ve ever been to where the airline food will likely be the best meal you have before you leave.

  7. Bastards the Americans? I think not. Look at the lyrics above – there wrote by Jonatan Davis. He is American, but this does not prevent him from calling for compassion for all, a simple children’s world view … to love, finally … He is very different from you …

    • It is very hard to have any compassion for a fascist state like Russia.

      Look at all you have done, enslaved millions in the communist block, murdered 61,000,000 or so people, crushed your ethnic minorities, invade and occupy your nieghbors, commit ethnic cleansing and support and abet ethnic cleansing and genocide by others.

      I have compassion for those Russians who stand up to your, quite frankly, evil government.

      But I have very little sympathy for those who actively support Putin. No more than I would for those who supported Hitler.

      • I do not support Putin … But the history of America also has examples of genocide and mass murder. In the history of each country have dark pages. And the task of each new generation is not to repeat the mistakes of their ancestors.

  8. You’ve raped!
    I feel dirty
    It hurt!
    As a child
    Tied down!
    That’s a good boy
    And f****d!
    Your own child
    I scream!
    No one hears me
    It hurt!
    I’m not alive
    My God!
    Saw you watching
    Mommy why?!
    Your own child

  9. envy is a poisonous emotion…

  10. Crikey Michael Tal,

    Your writing is so twee you could almost get a job writing for Lonely Planet. Do they do a Vladivostok issue?

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