Our dear Russian friend Andrey celebrated his birthday with a Russian feast. His original plan was to go to The Coachmen, but apparently they’re now out of business. Plan B took us to Romance in Kingsford, which turned out to be an awesome alternative.
The restaurant has a rustic appearance (it looked like a trattoria to me) and a homely vibe, emphasised by traditional decorations and the warmth we were received with.
The owner greeted Andrey in Russian and indicated the gluten-free section of the table for the few of us that requested it. Andrey had brought two bottles of vodka that had not been chilled. The owner swapped them with frosty ones from his fridge.
Russian Standard vodka
We had the standard banquet, which costs $65 per person. Traditional Russian (rye) black bread with butter and all cold entrée were already on the table.
Traditional Russian black bread
I loved both the cold meat platter, with chicken roll and roast beef (warning: the horseradish is strong!) and the salmon platter, which included smoked Tasmanian salmon, bliny with savoury filling, and salted Russian herring with Spanish onion and potato. The herring was not very popular with the others (silly them!), but unfortunately my stomach room couldn’t handle more than a few pieces.
Cold meat platter (chicken roll and roast beef)
We had three (different but similar) kinds of Russian salads: the classic Salad Olivier with potato, chicken, vegetables and mayo, a Russian salad with beetroot, potato, carrots, peas, etc., and a fish salad that looked more like a layered dessert (with Maraschino cherries on top!) and had potatoes, herring (I think), beetroot and lots of mayo. All of them were delicious.
Veggie-only dishes included eggplant rolls, filled with tomato, Russian-style crisp pickled gherkins & chillies, and sauerkraut, and marinated mushrooms with garlic and dill. My favourites were the pickles and sauerkraut.
Russian-style crisp pickled gherkins & chillies, sauerkraut
Marinated mushrooms with garlic and dill
The hot entrées included a couple that were not gluten-free: pirojki (Russian meat pies) and potato dumplings served with sour cream. The bliny (crepes) with mushrooms and chicken did come in a gluten-free version for us, and were very nice.
Bliny with mushrooms and chicken
At this point we were reaching our stomach limit, but still had room for the chicken Romance, a deboned quarter chicken with mushroom filling, served with a garden salad. It was good, although some people found the texture a bit off-putting.
There was live music covering a wide range of styles, decades, and languages. Some people hit the dance floor and had a blast, particularly the birthday boy. Music and vodka kept us distracted until the waiter announced there was more food coming! WTF??!! More?? Yes, the mains hadn’t been served yet, and they were serious business: normal-sized portions served in individual dinner plates. We could choose chicken and mash or the Russian Submarine, a grilled fish fillet wrapped in slices of zucchini with green sauce, served with mash. I had the fish, and it was good, although I wouldn’t say it was top quality fish. I couldn’t fit more than half the plate and didn’t even think about asking someone for a bite of the chicken to try.
Chicken & mash
A while later, the meal was officially over with tea and honey cakes. The cakes were thankfully not gluten-free, otherwise I would have felt compelled to stuff myself further.
Tea & honey cakes
Romance Russian Restaurant
36 Gardeners Rd
Kingsford NSW 2032
(02) 9663 4091