A freelance writer from the country, living in Melbourne.
Published May 26th 2014
So good it should be illegal
Not to be confused with the popular shopping district in Saint Petersburg, the Nevsky I'm referring to is in fact an unobtrusively charming little restaurant in Elsternwick, situated on bustling Glenhuntly Road.
Upon a Ukrainian friend's suggestion, myself and a group of friends decided to sample the Russian cuisine which Nevsky specialises in, and were collectively delighted with not only the exceptional food, but the cozy ambience and infalliably good service.
Immediately upon entering this restaurant it's obvious that you're in for a special dining experience; complete with open fireplaces and a surprisingly captivating accordian player. Both the downstairs and upstairs seating areas have beautiful wooden flooring and exposed red brick walls that ooze character and warmth.
Our waitress Nikki was the perfect hostess: attentive and informative regarding the unfamiliar cuisine, without being overbearing. She gave our group a friendly spiel regarding both the banquet and a la carte options for dining, and suggested some popular dishes - very helpful considering the majority of the group's inexperience with Russian food.
We had a few different shared entrees, including the Blinchiki Myasom; a thin crepe filled with minced beef and fried in butter.
For the main courses we tried the infamous Stroganoff, which consisted of a creamy veal & mushroom casserole with buckwheat kasha (kind of similar to a quinoa or cous cous, but with the earthy grain Buckwheat instead).
The stand-out dish of the evening for me, although they were all honestly exceptional was the Pozharskie Kotlety, which was two minced chicken breast patties, crumbed and pan-fried in butter, served with euro frites (fancy chips) and salad. The patties were were deliciously garlicky and the euro frites seasoned to perfection.
A few members of our dining posse were still able to fit in dessert after our feasting and tried the Kroshka, which is an apple & raspberry crumble with vanilla ice-cream, and the Sladkie Blini - thin crepes filled with sour cherry compote and topped with double cream.
The Sladkie Blini on the top, and the Kroshka at the bottom.
Nevsky also specialises in house-infused traditional Vodkas; our Ukrainian friend was brave enough to try a vodka tasting paddle, which was inclusive of a selection of their honey-pepper vodka, a horseradish-infused vodka with honey, and a ginger vodka with golden syrup. They were reportedly exceptional, but definitely not for the faint-hearted or those who don't tolerate straight spirits well.
In 10 words or less: An experience not to be missed, book now.
Huge selection of food, although exotic there are definitely a number of entry-level Russian dishes for the picky eater. Quite frankly I refrained from waxing and waning about each individual dish not only for the sake of brevity, but because every dish I ate was faultlessly executed, and incredibly delicious.
Fantastic setting for a group, with multiple banquets on offer and all entree dishes are easily shared.
Uncommonly warm and friendly atmosphere - we were at the restaurant from 7pm until 11pm and at no point did we feel hurried or encouraged to leave - it's one of those rare places that is a true experience to dine at, where conversations flow and dishes come out at a comfortable but leisurely pace.
Not so great things:
I honestly could not fault a single thing about this marvellous establishment, however my one suggestion would be to dine with a group when you come, to truly appreciate the experience and to have the opportunity to try a larger selection of Nevsky's signature dishes.
I also wouldn't suggest this for anyone who wants a fast dining experience - this is a restaurant for those who love to linger and soak up the ambience.