If you think Russian food is all boiled potatoes and sour cream, think again—preferably while sitting in the plush surrounds of midtown’s newly opened Brasserie Pushkin. Here your preconceived notions of dreary carb-heavy Soviet-era fare will be banished by such creative dishes as Telnoye, pan-fried cutlets of pike-perch and salmon served with salmon-mashed potatoes, warm mushroom salad and green pea mash … or the Burger “Pojarksy”, a combination of veal and chicken crusted with golden cubes of croutons to make the ‘bun,’ served with lettuce, tomatoes, pickled cucumbers, onions and parmesan sauce between each half.
If this doesn’t sound like standard Russian fare to you, it’s not. There is a generous serving of French haute cuisine woven through the menu, which was designed by Andrey Makhov, the executive chef of the Maison Dellos Group—a powerhouse conglomerate of Russian eateries. Dellos Group founder and owner Andrey Dellos is the son of a French architect and Russian singer, and lived in Paris for a time as a boy. For him, the fusion of French and Russian fare is completely natural. He was quoted in the New York Times as saying: “Russian cuisine was once sophisticated and noble, but it was often interpreted and adapted by French chefs working for aristocratic families … The French chefs made it lighter than traditional Slavic cuisine. Then the Soviets came and ruined Russion food.”
Perhaps the place where the French influence is most clearly noted (except, of course, for the wallpaper artwork inspired by Versailles’ Hall of Hercules) is in the dessert selection. French executive pastry chef Emmanuel Ryon has developed such luscious creations as the Hazelnut Meringue Dome, two meringues filled with cinnamon ice cream, apple-caramel foam and braised apple, covered in apple chips and decorated with vanilla bean, apple-saffron marmalade and edible gold. And there’s nothing dreary about that!