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The food at Eliseevsky is easier to digest than pronounce. It is also much better than it has any right to be given the twin handicaps of its Russian Heritage and an atrocious location. Eliseevsky is located in a small space wedged into a strip mall that has so many tenants that the absentee landlord must be laughing at the planning commission all the way to the bank. I counted a dozen boring restaurants among the usual strip mall stores…all jammed into the corner of Flamingo and Decatur, where parking spaces and good eats are as precious as Caspian Sea Caviar. But forget the inconvenience, because once you slip inside this wood-carved room you step into another world that is much more charming than one would ever suspect.

Now I’m probably one of the few people in southern Nevada who has actually eaten Russian food in Russia. Of course that was twenty-five years ago, and …how do I say this politely?…it was a lowlight in my gastronomic education. But coming as it did at the heighth of the cold war, I learned that we had more to fear from the kitchens of Moscow than from its missles. In retrospect, and after eating in several fine Russian restaurants in New York and Chicago, it seems that the communists were simply repressing everything in the country, including its cuisine.

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Elisveesky doesn’t serve horse meat burgers like I had in Leningrad, but it does dish up savory salmon in a champagne cream sauce, and a mushroom stuffed boned chicken leg that shows some real talent in the kitchen. I also, liked the pelmini—meat stuffed dumplings in a dilled sour cream and the blinis with decent smoked salmon—both suggested by a well-meaning waiter who’s still wrestling with the English language. He may have difficulty getting through to you, but the admirably short menu is easy enough to understand on its own…and the thoughtful and decorative feel of the place will make you happy that a new form of Russian revolution is occurring in our own back yard…

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Thursday, November 22, 2001
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