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Restaurants & Bars 9

Russian Bear

mcchowhound | Jun 21, 200406:27 PM

We had Father's Day lunch at Russian Bear on Clement between 10th and 11th. We were the only diners at 1:30 on a Sunday afternoon, and were seated in a restaurant area behind the bar at street level. The waiter seemed really glad to see us and cranked up some Russian music (balalaika-free, if a bit syrupy) after he described the food with great enthusiasm.

Everything was really Russian, or, more precisely, Georgian (with a few dishes described as "Israeli" as well) - the beer, the sparkling water (a seltzer with roughly the same salt content as the Dead Sea) and the food. We had a chicken "crepe" (which resembled a Cornish pasty more than a crepe,) excellent pelmenyi, a very good chicken (baked under a stone, according to the menu) and stuffed cabbage and a thick, rich vegetable soup. Not a light meal, but a very good one on a bitterly cold day. The bill was about $60 (including tip) for two appetizers, three main courses, a beer, a seltzer and a soft drink.

I will certainly go back, and will order something more adventurous next time. The whole thing reminded me of the Russian emigre places in Brighton Beach in Brooklyn. There is a huge dining area with a stage and a dance floor on the second floor (which appears to have come straight from 1977 in some sort of time machine.) My guess is that the right time to visit is a Saturday night. If the Brighton Beach comparison is correct, that would probably involve lots of vodka and disco dancing.

My first thought was that Russian Bear looked a bit forbidding to outsiders, but the people were very warm and friendly once we ventured in. Does anyone have any experience with this place?

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