Russian Samovar, the Midtown Theater District restaurant, is known as much for its unique cuisine as it is for it’s support of the arts. Think Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and Puskin, and you’ll get a feel for the atmosphere. A classically trained pianist performs nightly along with other acts, and poetry readings are held throughout the year.
Best of all, Russian Samovar is a family owned and operated restaurant. Roman Kaplan his daughter Vlada Von Shats and her two sons Michael and Nicholas provide that extra attention to detail that makes a good dining experience.
Although it’s probably best known for its vodka bar, with 26 flavored vodkas prepared in-house, including ginger, horseradish, lemon and cranberry, its authentic Russian dishes draw hockey players, Russian intelligentsia and theater district celebs.
And, what a history!
Russian Ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov and Nobel prize winning poet Joseph Brodsky were once co-owners,
Jilly Rizzo, friend and bodyguard of Frank Sinatra also had a joint at that spot back in the day.
Sinatra held many personal concerts and often spent time there with the Rat Pack–Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford and Sammy Davis Jr, playing baccarat at one of the tables.
Cyndi Lauper, Liza Minnelli and other theater regulars often stop by. Sometimes they even sing.
The decor definitely conveys the bourgeois grandeur of 19th century Imperial Russia, complete with green and red shades, Russian folk prints and eponymous samovars hanging on the walls.
The main dining room seats 100, with room for 50 at the bar. Its intimate upstairs lounge comfortably seats 34 for sit-down dinner, or 100 for standing buffet.
But it’s not just the vodka that attracts an elite clientele. Russian Samovar, which holds a spot in the Michelin Guide, offers some of the finest Russian cuisine in New York City.
The fare includes fresh salmon-caviar blini, prepared tableside; pelmeni, tender veal dumplings served with sour cream and honey mustard; or milk-cured Baltic herring, paired with pickled onions, potatoes, and carrots.
Desserts include the Kiev cake and Natasha’s apple pie, served with tea and cherry preserves.
The restaurant also hosts a pre-Theater prix-fix menu for $45, available, Mon through Thurs until 7pm. Broadway ticketholders get a 10 percent discount.
The restaurant features live interactive theatre every Thursday with award-winning actors, performances by Opera Singer Michael Peer on Mondays, The Gypsy Fun Trio on Fridays and Saturdays, playing traditional Russian music, and a Jazz Blues Brunch on Sundays with the Uptown Jazz Company.
Russian Samovar Restaurant & Piano Bar
256 West 52nd Street (At 8th Avenue)
New York, NY 10019
Web Site: Russian Samovar