My husband, father-in-law, and I enjoyed a delicious lunch today at Traktir. Traktir means "tavern" in Russian and specializes in "Soviet" food, i.e. foods from the former republics.
Our waiter was pleasant and unobtrusive. We sat on the enclosed patio and enjoyed the gray day. After we ordered, we were treated to a trio of three shots of flavored vodka: raspberry, cranberry, and lemon in a cute, custom tray. Nice touch! I followed with a lemon vodka on ice. (They also offered Absolut vodka by the bottle. At $24.95 we though it was a good deal.)
We enjoy silken house cured salmon and luscious, velvety herring served with small potatoes in a butter-garlic sauce, showered with fresh dill. Herring can be many things but this was soft, almost pillowy on the tongue with a soft, even romantic flavor. We were told that the deli next door carries the same herring.
I also had a bowl of pohlebka slovyanskaya, a deeply flavored beef soup with sausage and beans, showered with more fresh herbs. Cilantro, here, was a surprising choice but worked nicely.
We followed with a large platter of mixed vareniki which were much lighter than the usual version. The mushroom and finely minced meat were our favorites. They were covered with a light cream sauce and sprinkled with a little ham.
We finished the meal with Armenian coffee. Lunch for 3 was $45, a bargain considering the sophistication of the cooking.
8151-A Santa Monica Blvd. (at Crescent Heights)