As we browsed through the Russian restaurant options in Brighton Beach, we made our decision on this small restaurant on Brighton Beach Avenue. They didn’t look flashy, and had no obnoxious “only for tourists” vibe (expensive bad food) to it. We didn’t want to go to a tourists spot, but where actual locals (Russians, Ukrainians, etc.) would go and eat. This place looked just right.
The inside was even smaller than I thought, just a basic furniture, nothing flashy in the inside either. But you know, when the food is good, you don’t need fabulous decor or fashionable furniture. Good food will always bring in loyal customers.
As soon as we walked in, a young waiter came to us immediately and took us to a table. As we got settled, I noticed some photos of Nicolas Cage on the wall. It seems like this restaurant was used in a movie! As I did a quick research, it was a movie called “Lord of War” from 2005, which was surprising to me, since the photo somehow looked much, much older… I never heard of this movie (Sorry Nicolas Cage and Jared Leto), but now I want to watch it!
We already knew mostly what we wanted to order, but we still looked at each offering on their menu. Once we put in our order, the waiter brought us some bread and butter. Didn’t look anything really fancy, but it was pretty darn good bread, and had 2 different kind, soft and tasty.
For appetizers, we ordered Ukrainian Borscht ($6) and Vareniki with Meat ($6.50). The soup was very good, flavorful, and nice portion too. We also soaked bread in the soup, which was really good. It had nice amount of veggies, making it very hearty, and the beet flavor was really nice.
The vareniki came in a cute little clay container, and had caramelized onions on top. The clay pot itself was small, but it was packed with vareniki, maybe around 10 of them? It was soft, juicy, and very tasty. It was served with sour cream, and I liked it both with and without the sour cream. They had good flavor on its own, but adding the extra flavor was nice too.
For the main, we ordered Beef Stroganoff ($18.50) and Pilav ($11.50). The entree comes with a choice of mashed potato, rice, buckwheat, or french fries. I ordered the Stroganoff with rice, which I was later told that potato was more traditional Russian way… Either way, the rice was super tasty! And this was much different from the beef stroganoff from Russian Tea Room (you can read my review of Russian Tea Room at: http://www.foodlovergirl.com/russian-tea-room/). It looked more “home style” which I really enjoyed. The beef was tender and the sauce had really nice flavor, it went really great with the rice.
The price might seem a bit high, if you don’t know how much food you are getting. It was rather large portion on a large plate, you can see the size in the photo here. Pretty big, right? But it was so tasty that we finished the dish without effort. It also had pickled veggies as well, which was nice pallet cleanser.
The pilav came with several pieces of lamp, which were really tender, juicy, packed with flavor. They were cooked perfectly, so that each layer of the lamp fell off easily, melt in your mouth good. It also was a nice size portion, and the seasoned rice had very nice flavor.
I heard they serve really great desserts also, but we were very full at this point. So, we decided to get coffee and tea without dessert. We ordered Cappuccino ($4) and Tea with Lemon & Preserves ($2.50). The cappuccino came in a nice glass mug, and, to our pleasant surprise, sugar stirring stick! It was so nice, we really liked the extra fun, sweetness. The coffee was nice, solid, perfect way to end the fantastic meal.
And the tea, which cost ONLY $2.50, came in the traditional tea glass holders, called ‘podstakannik’ in Russian, which was amazing!!! I loved the traditional look, and it came with tea bag (I asked for Earl Grey), lemon slices, and preserves. I saw another customer (who was Russian) put some preserves in her tea, so I copied her and it was super tasty!
Even though we probably were the only non-local there, I felt like a Russian for just a second, drinking the tea from podstakannik. The mug was pretty big, so I didn’t need refill of hot water. It is such as great value for $2.50!
Overall, we really enjoyed the experience. From other local (mostly Russian) customers, we probably looked like tourists (and taking so many pictures of everything didn’t help…), but our presence was warmly welcomed. The waiters were very welcoming, didn’t speak perfect English which added to our “Russian experience.” They were very nice, super polite, and provided efficient, fast service. I really liked all the homemade style food. It is good to get varieties of styles, as well as variety of cuisine. I am very interested in their desserts as well, so we will definitely go back there in the future! If you want to get some good old Russian food, prepared homemade style, this is the place to go!
Ocean View Cafe – 290 Brighton Beach Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11235