Monday, June 24, 2013 the long awaited Russian restaurant Mari Vanna opened in the posh neighborhood of Melrose Place in Los Angeles.
The restaurant similar to its other locations in NY, Washington D.C, London and Moscow spearheaded by Russian hospitality group Ginza Project distinguishes itself by it’s rustic Russo-French country aesthetic which feels like straight out of a scene from Anton Chechov’s “The Cherry Orchard” around turn of the century. The entrance door, a white wrought iron gate, reminds of countess Ljubov’s country home in the provinces of Russian where cousin Anya, Boris and Varya are waiting with a warm welcome and the magic words “ my sunshine, my spring” at the door.
Only here you need “a key with a Matroyshka doll to be part of a selective VIP circle that enables you to enjoy special VIP treatment, free champagne and other privileges on special Monday nights”, I was entrusted by the beautiful Dannia Hakki who is in charge for the restaurant's PR while letting me pick out my own key out of a small basket.”Or you can come as a guest any day of the week. Hours of operation are: Dinner, 5:30 p.m. - 11 p.m. Bar, 5:30 p.m. - 2 a.m."
Either way, the atmosphere and the food will surprise you and catapult you straight back to the old country.The charming courtyard with it’s big tree as a centerpiece has bird houses dangling from it, creating a fairytale atmosphere. A wall with decorative antique tea kettles leads into the patio and restaurant which has colorful drawings, fruit baskets and faux-aged gateways all over.
Tonight an accordion player charms guests with Russian Folk tunes while the Russian tea party is getting cozy sipping Russian Beer, horseradish-, dill-, cherry-, seaberry-, and cranberry infused Vodka. No worries you are in good hands: there are are 70 different kind of Vodkas to choose from.
Delicious is the crepe station where one can sample savory caviar or sweet cherry crepes served up by a charming lady in a traditional Russian peasant dress. And while waiting more vodka shots are being passed out and now the party seems to get lively under the dim light of the moon.
Other guests are able to sip drinks called Troyka Royale, Frog Queen Martinis, Kalinka-Malinka Martinis, Klubnichka Strawberry Martinis or a Moscow Mojitos by the bar inside.
If you are on a date I suggest cuddling up in the main room. Here you may see some guests nibbling on three different kind of perogies(veal, potato and pumpkin) and yes, on fresh tasty fruit, ginger bread cookies and macaroons. The menue includes Russian dishes such as: braised veal with homemade noodles and svekolnik, a chilled borscht soup with sour cream and diced vegetables and beef storganov - as well as desserts like the napoleon cake and the kislitsa, chilled slices of orange-zested cream sprinkled with caramelized nuts.
Co-owner Tatiana Brunetti believes that Russian cuisine is misunderstood in this country and she hopes to change diners' opinions of the food via Mari Vanna's traditional and modern Russian dishes. She certainly has changed mine and as I was looking around I was able to spot familiar Hollywood actors Breckin Meyer, Frances Fisher, model Rochelle Aytes, designer Andrew Silva and producer Steven Levitan.
I am looking forward to return another night for potato Perogies and Borscht or making use of my magic key at VIP nights in the future. “ Spasibo” =Thank you and “ Prijatnogo appetita”= Bon appetite as the Russian's say.
8475 Melrose Pl Los Angeles, California 90069