I'm always up for exploring new cuisines -- I might not be able to travel to international locales in real life, but I can travel around the world in New York alone hopping from restaurant to restaurant. You've got Chinatown, Little Italy Indian food in Murray Hill (nicknamed Curry Hill) and Jamaican in Crown Heights!
Lately, I've been on an Eastern European food kick! I'm slowly working my way through cooking favorites such as stuffed cabbage and perogi at home. And I finally have an excuse (and craving) to try such New York institutions as Veselka, which if you haven't been to, run do not walk!
Recently, I stumbled upon Onegin, a Russian restaurant in the West Village. The restaurant is modeled after the literary works of Alexander Pushkin, the founder of modern Russian literature. One of his most famous works is Eugene Onegin (after which, you guessed it, the restaurant is named), which tells the story of a cynical aristocrat in opulent St. Petersburg.
I don't know about you, but I enjoy when my meal comes with a little literary education! And siting in Onegin, you really do feel like you should be wearing a decadent fur while sipping vodka and discussing Anna Karenina or Crime and Punishment. My high school English teacher would be so proud!
As expected from the Russians, the vodkas here are amazing! They have infused vodkas to drink straight -- I recommend the pear and ginger and the spicy horseradish. And their cocktails are fun and inventive. I couldn't refuse a "Son of a Peach," a cocktail with Jameson, Combier Peach, White Peach Puree, Muddled mint and lemon, topped with Russian cream soda.
The menu is expansive and is filled with hearty Russian favorites such as smoked fish and herring, meat stews and chicken Kiev. We only sampled a small portion of it and my favorites were our two appetizers, which I highly suggest. If you're looking to break into Russian cuisine, these are great gateways!
I sampled the Blini with salmon caviar which are classic Russian pancake, served with chopped hard boiled eggs and sour cream. These are a must have!
We also tried Pelmeni, which are Russian dumplings, with a filling of pork and veal or just veal. These are delicious!
If you're looking to be transported to 19th century Russia, or just sample a different cuisine, I highly recommend Onegin. It's perfect for fall and winter with hearty, rich flavors of Eastern Europe that will warm your mind, body and soul. Embrace your inner Ruskie and head over to Onegin!