Though coveting thy neighbor's wife or underground sprinkler system is beyond the pale, longing for a mouthful of his cuisine is an understandable desire. Today's Groupon satisfies desires to eat from the table of our nation's trans-Pacific neighbors: for $25, you get $50 worth of authentic-Russian cuisine at Russia House in Dupont Circle.
At Russia House, offerings are kept to a delicious, yet stoically regimented minimum, offset by a friendly staff and a cozy and inviting interior. Small plates include dishes such as duck rillette, slow-cooked duck leg atop an arugula-red onion salad on goat cheese-potato puree with a balsamic duck glace ($12), and the perennial favorite, pelmini, featuring veal- and pork-filled pasta pillows with a marsala-mushroom cream ($12). The larger and, by definition, more-filling plates range from familiar chicken Kiev, butter-chive-stuffed chicken breast served with mashed potatoes, sautéed carrots, and squash ($23), to the authentic zapechionaya baranina, or roasted lamb rack served with a black-bread pudding, braised chard, red pepper, and a rosemary-shallot sauce ($30). Russia House also boasts an awe-inspiring caviar selection, which includes colorful salty roe from golden osetra, American sturgeon, and the top-of-the-line beluga—all served with buckwheat blini pancakes, chopped onion, egg, and crème fraîche. Finish your meal with one of its rotating dessert selections, such as flourless chocolate cake or houseless house cheesecake ($8 all).
A trip to Russia House would be incomplete without sampling some of the impressively obscure vodkas, beers, and wines sourced from around the eight corners of the globe. Surprise your mouth or an unworldly food tester with selective sips of bitter-pepper or blood-orange vodka, Baltika golden lager, or Georgian icewine. Strap on your international-espionage shoes, be sure that you’re not being followed, and use the information coded in today’s Groupon to get your borscht on.
- Unpredictable crowds can make Russia House feel like one of the exotic dens from a vintage James Bond paperback. Sumptuously decorated for an oligarch, it certainly has the right look: red silk damask on the walls, flickering chandeliers, blocks of richly veined dark green marble set into the woodwork and used as accents above the bar. – Fritz Hahn, Washington Post
- I have the Chicken Kiev 9one of the staples) [sic] and ate every morsel, it was so good. – Luashawnna M., Yelp, 2/3/2011
Though they hail from different corners of the world, business partners Aaron McGovern and Arturas Vorobjovas and their shared passion for food begat Russia House, a tribute to the czarist-era dinner table. Raised in Lithuania on his father’s traditional Russian recipes, Arturas works with executive chef Andrew LaPorta to pack Russia House’s bill of fare with authentic offerings such as line-caught sturgeon, plump pelmini dumplings, and a selection of caviar. These rich Russian staples grace white tablecloths and elegant place settings inside Russia House's stately interior. Here, mirrors reflect light that bursts through large windows to reveal which guests have packed their cheeks with leftovers. In the upstairs lounges, plush booths cradle diners and occasional live piano music permeates the airwaves.