RASPUTIN – BRIGHTON BEACH
2670 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11235
Food Rating: 4.5
Rasputin is one of the most unique places I have been recently. It is essentially a Russian cabaret / nightclub where groups order huge menus and enjoy a live performance throughout the meal. Located in Brighton Beach this spot is just a little ways from the isle of Manhattan but truly feels worlds away.
Upon entering Rasputin you immediately feel like you are in Russia in a gaudy, opulently decorated theater. Beneath the 30-foot ceiling in the center of the room is a circular dance floor and a stage with large tables pre-set with food awaiting their diners all around the perimeter. Because it is winter, there was even more decor than usual with what looked like an explosion of white winter wonderland decorations – snowflakes and glitter everywhere. The patrons were no less gaudily adorned. Many were in black tie and there is no shortage of sequins and shoulder pads here.
The food itself is about as authentic as you can get without traveling thousands of miles, but unfortunately leaves a lot to be desired. For those at the table who were unaccustomed to being served platters upon platters of cured fishes and finding out the hard way that the entire fruit and vegetable tray was heavily pickled, this was not the best experience. Other dishes you might find on your table include basturma, beef tongue, caviar with blini and assorted pirogi. The portions were so large that the appetizers alone needed to be stacked on racks to accommodate all the dishes. Among the approximately 30 dishes we were served, there were some moments of brightness in the menu. The potatoes with mushrooms were delicious, albeit a bit greasy, and the assortment of grilled meats and fish was nice too. What they really want you do at Rasputin is ply you with as much of your BYO vodka and wine as possible (probably so that you won’t notice the food as much) so they kindly provide you with not only wine glasses but also individual vodka glasses. Needless to say there were lots of “nazdarovya!”‘s being cheered throughout the meal.
What you really go to Rasputin for is the expereince. The performance is lively and worldly with songs sung in various languages and lots of theatrical costumes. At some point the saxophonist is likely to climb off stage and serenade the table. There is a photographer who will take cheesy photos of your group available for sale after the meal and even a man who wanders around with individual long stem roses for those feeling a bit romantic. It is common throughout the dinner for everyone to get up and dance to a few songs before heading back to the table for another drink or two and largely ignore the food.
If you are in need of something very different from your normal evening of NYC bars and clubs, I highly recommend getting a big group together to make a quick trip to Moscow!