Ariana – Russian Food with a Modern Twist

Originally Published on Woman Around Town

Ariana, a contemporary Russian restaurant and lounge is featuring new food and cocktails to add to their winter menu. Last week Ariana Grinblat herself was there to host a tasting event which was the perfect touch for someone who hasn’t dined at the restaurant before. She defined the cuisine as contemporary Russian—so contemporary that one of the dishes even had a Southern twist. While Ariana has spent a good deal of her time in Russia, she is actually from Texas. The joining of cultures made for an interesting take on Russian cuisine and décor.

For starters, the Pickled Crudites, including golden beets and cherry tomatoes, kicked off the event. The bright tomatoes, juicy with a flavorful marinade, were aired with porcini mushrooms and signature mustard pickles. The fried mustard pickles, coated with a thick yet fluffy batter, were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The seasonal veggies were a great snack before dinner.

After these appetizers, the guests were escorted from the lounge into the more formal dining room, which exuded an understated elegance. French doors open onto a delightful courtyard that should be lovely in the spring.

Horseradish PrawnsHorseradish prawns with fried kale were were nice and plump with enough kick to emphasize the flavor without setting one’s mouth on fire. Elk meatballs were served in a creamy wild mushroom sauce and truffle oil. The short rib and mushroom blinis were also quite tasty. The home-made pancakes were slightly sweet, complimenting the braised short rib and sautéed onions with a dollop of crème fraiche.

What’s a Russian dinner without vodka? Ariana enjoys getting creative with infusing the house vodkas; originality is what makes the bar special. The dill and peppercorn infused vodka with pickle brine made from Ariana’s own home was the standout item from the evening. The vodka was so smooth and flavorful. The second of the shot duo, was a smokey pineapple and coconut infused vodka with a coconut water chaser, sure to appeal to those who enjoy fruitier drinks, but still want something more sophisticated.

Aside from their house-infused vodkas, the other cocktails were equally as creative. The restaurant reinvented a traditional Moscow Mule into the “Stubborn Mule.” In this interpretation, a frothy egg white gives the minty drink a refreshing airiness that a Moscow Mule lacks. The “Romanov” made of house-made cranberry reduction and sparkling wine was a perfect way to kick off the holiday season at Ariana. The cranberry brought a fullness and complexity to the bubbles for a balanced drink.

Ariana delivers traditional Russian cuisine with a modern twist. Perfect for the new year.

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