Far past the skyscrapers of the city, Brighton Beach tends to only beckon Manhattanites out to the oceanside Brooklyn location during the summer months, thanks to their nearby beaches. But the area has been hiding a fantastic dining and boozing secret, that, seemingly, only the Russian community has been let in on.
Rasputin Restaurant and Cabaret is 20% food, 30% entertainment, and 50% alcohol. You enter the two-storied, decadently decorated restaurant/nightclub, and sit down to a table that is already topped off with trays of delicious first-course foods such as seared tuna, potato salad, and crab salad with shrimp, and, of course, decanters of vodka.
For the next few hours, the food comes faster than you can chew (eel salad, ribeye steak with mushrooms and fingerling potatoes, lamb chops, seafood pasta, grilled sea bass), and if you’re embracing the full Russian experience, a shot of vodka is followed by each and every course. The staff is extremely attentive, making sure your glasses (both shot and regular) are never empty, and prompting Russian toasts of Za Zdarovya! While you eat and drink to your heart, stomach, and liver’s content, you are entertained with live music that is a strange fusion of Spanish and Russian. Audience members, both young and old, sporadically abandon their plates and shot glasses, and dance the calories away in between courses.
Around 11pm, the dance floor clears, the lights dim, and a Cirque du Soleil-like show fills the stage for the next 45 minutes. It’s no Broadway show – the performers are a little off sync and some of the acts have you scratching your head and thinking what the? – but it is incredibly entertaining.
The patrons are predominantly Russian, every person that I overheard during my dining experience had a thick accent from the motherland, and the ages ranged from babies to the walker-dependent elderly, staying deep into the night. The long tables were filled with families, 21st birthday celebrations, and even a wedding reception – clearly partying knows no age in Russia. I highly recommend going with a big group and taking advantage of one of the four prix fixe menus that range from $75 to $145 per person, served family-style.
The meal, or shall I say meals because between my guest and I, we ate about three days worth of food, were mouthwatering, the entertainment was fun, and the booze was never-ending. My only complaint was that it was so far from our apartment in the city. But I’ll let you on another little secret… they’re thinking of franchising into Manhattan.