Russian Kitchen House Cafeteria
Time Out Says
So it is here in Abu Dhabi as well, and when we explored the streets around the Russian Embassy downtown we found a real gem when we stumbled across the Russian Kitchen House Cafeteria.
It’s not easy to find in among the back streets behind Salam and Khalifa Streets (in fact, we recommend doing an internet search and printing out a Google map to help you navigate), but the food is well worth a bit of strolling around.
More or less a one woman show, the greeting we received from the proprietor/cook when we finally found the restaurant was friendly and in Russian! The restaurant itself is distinctly more like a café, compact (there are only five or six tables in all) and very basic but spotlessly clean and quite charming thanks to a few little decorative touches and the TV in the corner showing a Russian news station.
For such a small restaurant the menu is substantial and, unless you’re already familiar with Russian cuisine, we recommend brushing up on the national dishes a little so you know what you’d like to order, since there are no descriptions.
We started with a cabbage salad – fresh green cabbage grated together with cucumber and dressed with a very light vinegar, a little oil and a lot of fresh dill. It was light and refreshing, the cabbage lifted by the vinegar but without being sharp or sour and makes an excellent palate cleanser to eat with some of the heavier, richer dishes.
For mains we selected the plov and the cabbage rolls. Plov (also known as pilaf) is a one pot dish of rice cooked in a seasoned broth or stock with lamb or beef and vegetables. The dish is dry, rather than soupy, and the version served to us was smooth and extremely tasty with the flavour of mushroom punching through first before yielding to the more subtle flavours of the meat, onions and red peppers. Done well, as this was, plov is a simple, hearty meal with flavours that are well rounded and deeply satisfying.
The cabbage rolls consisted of leaves stuffed with a minced meat and rice mixture before being tightly rolled and cooked in a soup with tomato and carrot until the cabbage is soft and translucent. You are served two in a shallow bowl with a ladle-full of broth and a dollop of sour cream, and some dill thrown on top for good measure. Really this was comfort food at it’s very best, and conjured up images of treks through the snow, long scarves and thick gloves – admittedly this is somewhat incongruous to the weather in the UAE, but it is winter after all, and with food this good we are more than happy to pretend.
The bill (for two)
Cabbage salad Dhs13
Cabbage rolls Dhs23
Total (excluding service) Dhs61
By Time Out Abu Dhabi staff | 26 Nov 2012
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