Russian cuisine is a collection of different cooking traditions of the Russian people. It is truly diverse with Northern and Eastern European flavors, Caucasian, Central Asian, Siberian, and East African influences.
On a cold evening, while driving around West Hollywood, my partner Alex Ayzin, originally from Odessa and I decided to stop by a cozy bistro appropriately named Traktir. Traktir in Russian means tavern.
Traktir is a cozy, yet eclectic bistro with artifacts from Russia decorating the walls. It is owned by Oleg and Rina Atroshenko. Their patio which overlooks Santa Monica Blvd is where all the action is. It’s not surprising to see folks like Mickey Rourke getting a bowl of borscht soup there.
On this occasion Alex and I were served borscht soup, consisting of red beets, carrots, cabbage, and tomatoes with lamb for me and beef for Alex, with a little sour cream on the side to mix in the soup. We also tasted Kharcho, a Georgian soup originating in Mingrelia. This is prepared with beef, lamb, pork, chicken, or goose, with rice cherry plum puree and English walnuts in a tomato base.
We were then served potato dumplings and Russian potato salad. I just love the Russian potato salad, because it is prepared with sweet peas,carrots, bologna, pickles, eggs. onions mixed with mayonnaise and sour cream.
Our main entree was prepared by Oleg himself, which was Beef Stroganoff. Beef Stroganoff derives from the Stroganoff Family in Tsurist, Russia. During the 17th century they were the most successful business leaders of their time, and were known for this recipe. Although there are many ways to prepare this dish, the old Russian tea room recipe may be what Executive chef Oleg used.
Ingredients include chunks of sirloin beef, where the fat and gristle are trimmed off the steak, two tablespoons of salt, and a half teaspoon of black ground pepper, with thinly sliced onions, a tablespoon of flour, and tablespoon of Dijon mustard, half of cup of white wine, two tablespoons of tomato paste, all mixed with sour cream sauce. “This is the way my Mom would prepare Stroganoff,” Alex said. “It’s authentic. It was perhaps the best Beef Stroganoff I have ever tasted.”
When complemented with Russian potato salad and home baked bread, there’s nothing quite like a Russian meal. As an added attraction, there are a variety of infused vodka drinks, consisting of peach, raspberry, and other flavors to choose from. Vodka is part of the Russian culture.
Dessert For a Sweet Tooth
Our farewell culinary journey ended with Honey layered cake. For those who have a sweet tooth, this is a delicious dish, with the wonderful taste of burnt honey.
Traktir is located at 8515 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood. Hours of operation are 12 pm – 11 pm. For catering and reservations call (323) 654-3030.
Celebrity Scene News awards 4 stars to Traktir Russian Restaurant for authentic Russian cuisine and wonderful conversations.