Although the matriarch, Alla Golubchik, is the traditional cook, she has handed the ladle over to her husband, Mike. Says daughter and manager Tseza Wieand: “My mother has authentic recipes and has always been a great cook, but my dad ended up being the chef. My mom sticks to more traditional recipes, and his cooking is more creative.” Wieand’s advice to new (and sometimes wary) customers is: “Don’t be afraid to try things — it’s very good, homemade-style food with flair.” Below are Astoria’s most popular dishes that are authentically Russian in origin, but also modified to appeal to today’s diners.
Getting the dish
This is a Russian national dish of dough rolled thin and hand swaddled to become dumplings of succulent seasoned ground pork and onions, served with Russian garlic sauce. Pelmeni belongs to the family of dumplings. It originated in the Siberian region and was favored by hunters who sought light, easy-to-prepare, nourishing food to take with them on long hunting trips in the winter. “This dish is very traditional and authentic,” Wieand says. “It is also time consuming to make because you have to make each by hand. This is my mother’s recipe.”
OSETRA KABOB ($19.95)
Marinated osetra kabob is grilled and served on lemon-butter sauce, vegetable rice and sautéed veggies.
This Russian fish comes from the sturgeon family and is popular at Astoria. The fish is grown and delivered from Mote Marine and is certified organic.
COLD BORSCH ($5.95)
Cold borsch is lighter than hot borsch and is made with fresh cabbage, beets, onion, potatoes and carrots. It is served cold with fresh cucumber, sliced egg and dill. The signature Russian beetroot soup, hot borsch, is richer in flavor. It is served with a ground beef pyroshok.
Although a soup, borsch is often ordered as a meal. It is known all over Eastern Europe, but everyone makes it differently. In Ukrainian and Belarusian cuisine, tomatoes are standard, sometimes in addition to the beets.
KIEV'S PASTRY ($6.95)
Kiev’s pastry is a meringue baked with whole, roasted cashews and is served with chocolate mousse and shredded chocolate.
“This is a dessert (also known as Kiev cake) that you cannot buy just anywhere, only Kiev, Ukraine, where we are from,” Wieand says. “It is not something you get the recipe to, either, so this took my dad almost one year to perfect the recipe and come up with the perfect formula.”
DID YOU KNOW?
• Astoria offers Georgian wines. Georgia (which used to be a part of Russia) is considered the source of the first cultivated grapevines. Tools of grape-and-wine production, clay vessels for wine, and art and jewelry depicting grapes found in Georgia, have been dated as far back as 5000 B.C.
• The Russian style of eating is to put everything out on the table, except dessert. There are no specific appetizers, entrées, etc. And, of course, there is vodka. “Drink a little, then eat a little,” Tseza Wieand says.
• The name “Astoria” comes from Hotel Astoria, in St. Petersburg, Russia. “My parents went there for a vacation specifically to experience the restaurant that was in the hotel. The menu there was like a novel and they really loved it,” Wieand says.
if you go
Address: 8126 Lakewood Ranch Main Street, Suite 101. 907-3873.
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Astoria offers live Russian music on Saturday nights.
Web site: http://www.astoriarussian restaurant.com
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