Traktir Medved (or 'Bear Tavern') is one of those restaurants one kept hearing being mentioned whenever one brings up the subject of Russian or Ukrainian food in Almaty. At first impression, very impressive-looking interiors, replete with Russian decoratives, with wait-staff in traditional Russian embroidered clothing.
Our dinner started off with a Russian bread selection - we were served a daunting platter of carbs which reminded me that the Russians love smothering their breads with mayonnaise & butter or lard. The ones here came with black olives and cherry tomatoes skewered on top.
- Borscht: the classic Ukrainian beetroot soup, very well-done here. The tomatoes provided a sharp counter-balance to the heavy beef-mutton broth. A drizzle of 'smetana' (sour cream) added a richness to the soup, filled with shredded cabbage and topped with finely-chopped dill.
- Canapes: toasts topped with hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise and dill. This was served as an accompaniment to the borscht soup, but was a bit superlative: halved hard-boiled eggs smothered in a thick, rich mayonnaise-cheese sauce on heavily-buttered toast.
- Beef Stroganoff: A Russian classic of sauteed beef strips with onions and mushrooms, smothered in a rich, fatty sauce, thickened with 'smetana' sour cream. Well-executed version, although one had to order the traditional rice accompaniment separately. The finely-chopped cabbage slaw that came with it had an overpowering horseradish dressing which I didn't quite take to.
- Grilled pork chop with 'muzhdei' (garlic sauce): perfectly-grilled pork chop, with a lovely texture. The garlic sauce was surprisingly more astringent than expected.
Dessert: Blinchiki with whipped cream and cranberries - this was fine, but not something I'd order again. As for the coffee-based beverages - do *not* order: the standards here were atrocious.
Very good, attentive service, but very little English is spoken. Would greatly help to have a Russian speaker.
140 Kabanbai Batir Street
Tel: +7 727 267 51 30