Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Mari Vanna

Photo: Travis Vaughn
*Sponsored Post
According to Slavic legend, Mari Vanna was a fairytale grandmother known to welcome hungry travelers into her house. She would feed her guests a home-cooked meal before sending them back out on their voyage. In January 2013, Russian hospitality powerhouse Ginza Project opened the second US location of this legend in the heart of downtown DC.  Closest Metro is Farragut North or Dupont Circle.

From Moki Media: "With an established reputation of excellence in authentic Russian cuisine in New York, London, Moscow and beyond, the capital's 6,500 square-foot eatery will be Mari Vanna's largest location in the world. Located at 1141 Connecticut Ave., NW, the hot spot finds its home in one of the district's most upscale locales. Just five blocks from the White House and steps away from the historic Mayflower Hotel, the new restaurant nestles perfectly between K Street's bustling business district and DC's trendy Dupont Circle neighborhood."

Third-floor cocktail lounge.  Photo: Travis Vaughn
The three-level restaurant offers home-style Russian cuisine in a tea party-meets-grandma’s house ambiance. Unlike any other location, the venue features an open-air kitchen, bedecked in red and white tiles and old Russian tchotchkes. Additionally, what sets Mari Vanna DC apart from its four world-wide sister locations is its cozy, third level, private cocktail lounge.  We were invited to celebrate Mari Vanna's first anniversary in DC with a "birthday party" featuring a house-infused vodka open bar and Russian bites from a traditional pelmen tasting station.

Third-floor window seating.
Photo:  Travis Vaughn
The restaurant boasts a collection of plotted plants and flowers outside that resemble the shrubbery surrounding the entrance of an old Eastern European abode. Just like entering a scene set in pre-war Russia from a Leo Tolstoy novel, the interior is reminiscent of an old-time babushka parlor, complete with dangling chandeliers, stuffed armchairs and antique rugs. Old cupboards heaving with trinkets and a sprawl of vintage photos and Faberge eggs set the nostalgic scene for an exceptional dining experience.

Classic menu offerings range from cold appetizers such as pickled vegetables, salt-cured pork and black caviar to hot appetizers such as pirozhok, blinis and hand-made Russian dumplings. Delectable entree options will include Mari Vanna's world famous beef stroganoff, chicken kotletki and fishcakesI particularly enjoyed the cheese flat bread, beet salad, cured herring, various caviar, and eggplant roll filled with nuts.

And what's a Russian nightlife haven without its Vodka? There are over 70 varieties of house-infused vodkas and an impressive cocktail lineup. Signature drink offerings will include the Klubnichka, a strawberry spritzer, the Sunny, a seaberry martini and the Pomidorchik, a reinvented bloody mary with a spicy mustard kick.  We sampled the horseradish-infused vodka and the pineapple-infused vodka.

The walls showcase layers of peeled wallpaper, reflecting various eras of ancient history and decades past. Guests on the lower levels can find themselves being serenaded by an artistically inclined full-time staffer, while a DJ played a loud mix of 80s and 90s pop music wher ewe were on the 3rd floor.  We also were treated to a performance by the restaurant's very own accordionist. (He's available for parties.)

With international appeal in dining, Mari Vanna DC has attracted celebrity and political notables alike over the past year, and will continue to be a favorite destination that offers decent Eastern European fare.  Check them out Friday, February 7th for a Winter Olympics kick-off party from 6 - 9pm, as they will be featuring 3 new dishes from Sochi. One complimentary vodka shot and a complimentary pirozhki tasting station will be available to all patrons.

Open Monday - Friday: Lunch 11:30am to 3:30pm; Mid Afternoon Tea 3:30pm to 5pm; Happy Hour (Siberian Express) 4pm to 6pm; Dinner 5pm to Midnight; Late Dinner Menu offered Midnight to Close. Saturday & Sunday: Lunch 11am to 5pm starting February 3rd; Dinner 5pm to Midnight; Late Dinner Menu offered Midnight to Close.
Mari Vanna on Urbanspoon

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