A Russian Standard
By Mary Pfeifer
ARIANA is a contemporary interpretation on Russian cuisine. It opened in New York City in February 2014. Named after owner Ariana Grinblat, a Russian-American recording artist, the menu has some very unique dishes and signature cocktails. Some of which are a pickle salad with Meyer lemon-yogurt dressing, cabbage stuffed with lobster and quail in a walnut-pecan sauce. The chef is Vitalii Kovalev from St. Petersburg. The softly lighted room has a custom marble Craft Vodka bar with infused and aged vodkas where mixologists create some very tantalizing cocktails. Ariana Soho is located right in the heart of the historic Soho neighborhood in lower Manhattan.
"The 2,000 square foot restaurant, located in a building constructed in the 1800s, is divided into four distinct areas, including a dining room with a dramatic skylight and a cozy private dining space with a gas fireplace. The décor, designed by Grinblat to be an extension of her (nearby) living room, is a modern minimalist symphony of soft grey, champagne, taupe and cognac tones further warmed by the glow."
Upon our arrival Ariana greeted us and her attractive staff was very attentive to our every need and even taught us some Russian phrases. We sampled several unique signature cocktails such as "Caviar Martini" which consisted of a Black Caviar frozen lollipop and Beluga Gold Vodka and "Strawberry Fennel" made of Drunken Strawberries, Orange Combier, Vodka, fresh fennel and Sparkling wine.
We started with some small plates and shared amongst our table, including Pickle Salad, cubed house-pickled beets, heirloom tomatoes, jicama and micro greens, sprinkled with smoked bacon and pecan soil and drizzled with Meyer lemon agave yogurt dressing; Country Pâté, chicken and duck liver served
with cranberry hazelnut crostini, house made pear preserves and house-pickled shallots; The presentation was as much a work of art as the flavor of fresh exotic ingredients.
Next we feasted on cabbage stuffed with lobster (butter-poached Lobster mousse, napa cabbage, beurre blanc, black caviar garnish) and Velvet Borscht, rich consommé of beets (a beautiful bright cranberry color), cabbage and root vegetables in oxtoil broth, with slow-roasted short rib finished with a dollop of crème fraiche and finely chopped chives.
Dining at Ariana was truly a treat for all of the senses. The bar is slowly creating a following of its own. Ariana and beverage director Orson Salicetti developed a one-of-a-kind craft vodka bar inside the restaurant, with in-house oak barrel-aged vodka and only the freshest fruits and herbs
According to Ariana, "It's very old-world meets new-world conceptually. There's a story behind every dish on the menu." Classic Russian recipes are deconstructed and revived with contemporary flare, organic ingredients and bold flavors.
138-140 W Houston Street
NY, NY 10012