6 at 23rd St.; N, R at 23rd St.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
This opulent, shabby-chic bistro in Gramercy Park is easy on the eyes. That’s thanks in part to the pretty young things dining with their 50-something Russian expat companions, and in part to the décor: crystal chandeliers, an armoire full of china and silver, tables dressed in white linen. Open since 2009, Mari Vanna is the first American outpost of a mini-chain that has two other locations in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and its authenticity hasn’t been lost in translation. A gratis starter of slices of raisin and rye bread come out out on a wooden board laden with creamy chive spread, radish, scallion, and sea salt. Considering the menu’s healthy price point, it’s a nice gesture. An appetizer of not-too-salty, melt in your mouth herring pairs nicely with its accompanying fingerling potatoes; the sturgeon kebab, served on a bed of rice with greens, has an enjoyable back-to-basics simplicity. Caviar is the big seller here, but heavier entrees like the beef stroganoff, in a generously-portioned serving, makes for a wiser choice if you’re going to be downing shots of the various house-infused vodkas arranged in jugs behind the bar.Russian Table
Mari Vanna offers a prix-fixe tasting menu hybrid of various course numbers with recommended pairings of vodkas.
Birthday celebrations here are not for the timid. The staff will bring out the sparklers and sing to you in Russian, often with the rest of the restaurant joining in.
House cured herring, $12