• As the global buzz for the FIFA World Cup mounted into a crescendo last month, my search for some tasty – and as it turns out colorful – Russian dining in Dubai began

    There is an old Russian saying that, when translated, means: “Appetite comes with the meal” meaning that an activity grows on you once you start practising it. This applies, too, to Russian dining as I found out after I discovered Suvoroff located at the Jumeirah Beach Residence in Dubai.

    From the moment you walk through the door, you are embraced in old-world character and charm. The restaurant is smaller than expected, yet cosy. There’s a moose head above the fireplace and a large brown bear that, for lack of a better description, epitomises every image you’ve ever had about Mother Russia.

    We were greeted warmly when we arrived and ushered to our table with a furry. The dining options had been pre-chosen for us and were already prepared by the time we had arrived. One thing was for certain, we had not counted on Russian efficiency being that close to German.

    First things first

    For the appetisers, herring was the fish of choice – and in fact was apparent in almost all of the dishes. From the kitchen, we were treated to a classic Russian salad referred to as “Dressed Herring”. This layered salad is made of finely sliced pickled herring, onion, potatoes, carrots and beetroot, which is primarily responsible for the bright pink colour.

    The second salad was the Vinaigrette Salad. Similar in that it’s bright pink, but milder in favour due to the lack of the egg that was present in the dressed herring, it consisted of diced cooked vegetables, chopped onion and sauerkraut and/or brined pickles (we couldn’t distinguish). The initial reaction from us was of being refreshed, which was perfect for the hot summer evening and it conjured up memories of what some westerners might consider a ‘bean salad’ – albeit with no beans.

    The most intriguing dish and the one that we were most apprehensive about was the boiled veal tongue with horseradish. Thinly sliced, it didn’t make any friends by appearance. The ashy-coloured meat redeemed itself in favour though, and as we quickly discovered it was a close relative to roast beef. Dipped in a small amount of the salsa supplement, it quickly became one of the table favourites so far.

    Fried pies

    When the next round of morsels made their way from the kitchen, they all resembled a fried breakfast pasty rather than what we were told were ‘pies’. Uzbek was on the first plate. These half-moon shaped pastries were stuffed with ground veal and seasonings.

    The bilyashiki were on a plate next to them and were triangle shaped, but these were filled with rich and creamy cheese and greens; which as near as we could tell were perhaps chives or perhaps dill.

    A third option came out shortly after and these were stuffed to the brim with green onion and egg which made for a very rich favour despite being encased in dough and then fried.

    By this time, we were all beginning to feel satisfied but had yet to arrive at the main course for the evening. Brimming out of a homemade bread loaf, the roast beef and vegetables were smothered in a thick stew-like sauce and baked in the oven. The bread loaf was crusty on the outside yet soft on the inside – much like our Russian comrades of the North.

    This was a dish that hit my inner-Russian as it was similar to what Mom used to make back home in the very cold state of Minnesota during the winter time. It was a comfort food which we all dove into and enjoyed immensely with flashbacks to home. Even my Filipino friend said it was something they had in the Philippines, it just came by a different name.

    Just desserts

    We were now contemplating how much damage we could do to the three desserts the kitchen had prepared for us. Presented to us was a giant triangular slice of homemade honey cake, a square slice of Napoleon cake that was the size of Mother Russia herself, and some more fried pastries – this time filled with curd cheese.

    What can I say? They were all rich and flling and maintained the stereotypical Russian mantra of it’s going to be heavy.

    The consensus was that we all enjoyed the honey cake; perhaps because it was something that really made us feel like we were in Eastern Europe. It was also fairly dense which helped to fll in any gaps that we might have had in our stomach.

    Although we didn’t get to try some of the more commonly known dishes such as the Borscht, my only regret is that I didn’t fnd this restaurant sooner. It’s not a place that I would frequent all of the time, but it certainly became one of my favourites.