Friday, February 09, 2007

A good eating day

Welcome to a brand new feature of The Menagerie- Restaurant Reviews! We've been eating out a lot (try, every day) since we moved to St Paul, what with the no kitchen. So we thought it would be fun to review some of the places we go here in the Twin Cities. Of course, we reserve the right to review restaurants in the cities we visit when we need or have to get away.

First in the series? Moscow on the Hill in the Cathedral Hill neighborhood of St Paul. I decided that we needed to go to this restaurant because 1) Russian cuisine features dumplings and I love me the dumplings and 2) I was wearing a hat that day that I thought would go well with the decor, character, and style of the restaurant, you know, romantic and Anna Karenina-ish and all that.

The menu was quite informative and amusing. It informed us that a lot of Russian cuisine is hearty and warming, due to the frigid temperatures that are typical of Russia. We thought that this was very apt, since we have been experiencing quite the cold snap since we moved here (one recent day when the temperature ventured above zero degrees (F) I told Eric that I thought it was quite mild out!). Also, the menu was of the opinion that vodka is very traditionally drunk with a meal, as it warms you up and breaks the social ice.
You could even order a whole bottle of vodka (but only with the order of a meal)! They also had flights of vodkas. We were also instructed that you do not sip vodka but gulp it.

We got the Moscow Vodka Flight, featuring six large shots of homemade, flavored vodkas. There was garlic & dill, horseradish, caramel, tiramisu, cherry, and pepper. The flavors were amazingly intense. We were initially worried that in gulping instead of sipping we wouldn't get a sense of the flavor. Not to worry!!! My favorite was the pepper because it not only warmed my chest due to the alcohol but also all the way from the lips to the stomach because of the pepper. Second to that, I loved the caramel. I spent a lot of time just smelling it, remembering the caramels my dad and I used to buy by the pound. Eric's favorite vodka was the horseradish- enticingly spicy. The garlic & dill was amazingly garlicky and Eric didn't really like that one at all. And I must say, I am a better gulper of vodka than is Eric. It's the alcoholic genes in me! :)

Eric had the Chicken Kiev, which he had never had before (!). The breading was crunchy and the chicken moist. It was served with mashed potatoes - very yummy - and red cabbage - fine, but a little too pickled for his tastes. I had Vareniki (natch! These are potato-filled dumplings from the Ukraine; I guess we really had Ukrainian cuisine, huh, I just realized that!). There were a whole bunch of them- about 15-20 maybe? The pastry had a light touch but in the end I was stuffed (haha). Sour cream and fresh dill topped them, along with some sauteed onions. We were both quite happy with our entrees.

For dessert we had some divine Blintzi - crepes filled with a dried fruit (currants we thought) and cream cheesy filling, drizzled with warm chocolate sauce. Very rich and filling. With our oohing and aahing we managed to persuade the people at the next table to order it too.

The ambiance was very red velvet Russian - lots of red drapes and flowered, black tasseled shawls swathed about the hanging lamps and delicate ethnic art, dolls. The bar was quite long, featuring a lot of vodka bottles.

All in all, it was a good eating day, as the Russians say on cold winter days.



At 10:28 AM, Blogger Ingrid said...

Wow, you guys know how to stay warm! I loved reading the review and seeing the photos and experiencing it vicariously...what will your next cool restaurant be??

At 12:32 PM, Blogger Giggly Girl Eats said...

hey! i wanted to go there with you guys! it's like that place in chicago where we had high tea. except there's no need for the pretense of tea at moscow on the hill. the patio is GREAT in the summer. and the martinis there are good and STRONG! one sip and i'm under the table.


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