Having dined at Red Square many years ago, I had vague memories of good vodka and caviar so my expectations were higher than usual. That was wrong, very wrong :) If the bar is set too high, lower the bar!
First, the positives. Service was quite good if a tad overly enthusiastic. The ambiance is that of a decaying opulence, (deconstructed) rococo of the czarist Russia mixed in with Soviet kitsch. Nice dining room with booths that can comfortably seat 4 people so there's plenty of room if you're a party of 2. Good cocktails and 170 kinds of vodka with many vodka flights (ha!) on offer. (They cheat a little with that number by counting different flavors of the same vodka as distinct types). I had a Russian Mary - peppered vodka with an extra-spicy Bloody Mary mix and olives stuffed with blue cheese. If you like it extra picante, this one is for you and I enjoyed it. Waitresses wear black shirts that read 'Join the Party' on the back.
Now, the negatives. I wanted to go into the ice room but that required buying a bottle (250-300) or a membership - doh! Food is mediocre at best. It felt like Red Lobster or an upscale dining chain rather than one of the restaurants at Mandalay Bay.
app. Lobster Bisque
app. Salmon + Chips ("Siberian Wontons")
entree. Beef Stroganoff
entree. Salmon Kulebyaka
The bisque was competent but a bit thin. It was downhill from there. The "Siberian Wontons" were a terrible pairing of salmon, wonton-like chips and creme fraiche. Creme fraiche tasted as if it was shipped from New Zealand and kept in the freezer for 30 days, the chips detracted from the overall taste and the salmon was 2nd grade. Beef stroganoff came out like looking like a mongolian beef dish with thick noodles smothered in beef-flavored broth. Neither the noodles nor the beef tasted good; the beef was chewy. Salmon kulebyaka was even worse. Having once gotten a kulebyaka at a Russian deli in San Francisco, I expected a cylinder-shaped pie with puff pastry on the outside and meat/fish/eggs on the inside. Instead, I got a deconstructed kulebyaka with a piece of grilled salmon sitting on top of a very hard pastry dough. The only edible item in that dish was the egg (sitting on top of the salmon). Yuck!
If Mandalay Bay website bills this as perestroika-flavored cuisine, these guys need a Revolution pronto!!!
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