I was on a rare visit to San Jose (or maybe across the border in Campbell,) and happened to pass a Russian restaurant (named "Nevsky") and deli in a strip mall at 1740 Winchester. Since I love Russian food and can't often find it in the East Bay, I stopped in to explore.
Wow! The restaurant is somewhat plain in the daylight - a boxy room with picture windows overlooking the parking lot - but there are nice linen tablecloths, and every effort seems to have been made to make it pleasant and comfortable. Instruments (including an electric balalaika) were set up for the evening, and it looked as if there was a small dance floor.
The menu was amazing - all the usual suspects, plus a number of shasliks with just about everything in the $7.50 range (on the lunch menu - dinner is probably higher) soup included.
We had a plate of blinis - cheese and meat - to start with. They were wonderful - light, airy crepes with lovely fillings. We then had soups - mine was some kind of vegetable soup with a lot of sausage. My husband liked it, but I thought it was the weakest of the dishes. He had a borscht so dense it looked as if several whole beets had been chopped into it.
I had pelmenyi (sp.?) dumplings - amazing, light, nicely spiced. He had one of the best versions of stuffed cabbage rolls I've seen. (Some people next to us had a chopped chicken and walnut dish which looked really good as well.)
The waitress was warm and friendly. They hadn't gotten their shipment of desserts from a NY bakery, and she seemed genuinely embarrassed, although it would have been impossible to eat anything else anyway.
There were four Russian vodkas on the wine list, several Armenian cognacs and a number of Georgian and Moldovan wines of which I knew nothing. (All of these, plus Russian cold cuts and a selection of tinned goods from Russia are also on sale in the deli next door.)
This was a great thing to have just tripped over by accident. It might that be the serendipity of the experience lent it something of a glow, but I'd love to hear what the neighbors think.