10 October 2011

Romance Russian Restaurant: 14 Course dining deal for 2 for $69, Kingsford (1 Oct 2011)

36-38 Gardeners Road, Kingsford NSW 2032

A one-stop Russian experience

Thanks to Ricky Chong from Food Morning for providing me two deal vouchers to sample the 14 course dining experience deal ($69 for 2 people) at the Romance Russian Restaurant. The deal roughly saves you 50% and includes a glass of wine for each person. I wanted to try this place more out of curiosity because I remember when it used to be an Italian restaurant many years ago under the same name. It's still a bit kitsch and has a very nostalgic atmosphere, especially when you hear the live pianist upon entering. Red clothed seating reminds me of a wedding room and there's plenty of Russian decor around to spot. The first dishes are brought out pretty quickly since they're all cold starters and I noticed some of the larger tables already had them in place. You don't have to wait long to start eating which is a good thing. Our Traditional Russian black bread with butter never appeared at the start of our meal so I had to ask for it when I noticed it on other tables during our mains.

The Salad “Olivier” of classic potato salad with chicken and vegetables and other cold dishes got a bit of a nod from our fellow Russian diner who said it reminded him of his grandma's christmas dinner. The Salmon Platter included some salted Russian herring with potatoes and Spanish onion rings which I learnt was something to eat after a shot of vodka to help neutralise the alcohol taste. The Eggplant Rolls looked interesting but I was hoping for more flavour in them. The Bliny (crepes) with mushrooms were interesting and ended up being a bit of a table pleaser. I think I would have preferred the filling to be a bit more creamy and cheesy to make it even more tasty for me. The main hot dishes of Fish with mash potato and Beef Stroganoff were quite hearty meals. The fish dish tasted better than it was presented and was a bit of a comfort meal with familiar tastes that worked together. At first I didn't even know there was fish under all the mash and white sauce. The Beef Stroganoff was OK but perhaps could have had a bit more depth of flavour and a slice or two of bread on the side would have been appreciated to soak up the gravy sauce.

If you've come here for the tea or coffee then I think you'd be sadly disappointed. After being served an empty tea cup we waited 18 minutes before service finally brought some tea around to fill it. Unfortunately it was pretty lukewarm. For straight black coffee it was a 32 minute wait before we actually had the empty cup filled. Although it was pretty hot it was also a bit rough around the edges and definitely needed some sugar to smooth it out and make it more drinkable. There was no sign of dessert which was ashame. On the website menu it mentioned 'mouth-watering honey cakes' which I never saw. Natasha Morozova's singing is the main entertainment for the night and if the right crowd is in the audience be prepared to see the dance floor come alive. On the night I visited there was a large table booking of Russians and another table for a hens night. The combination of both of them wanting to party certainly created a fun atmosphere. Natasha's singing was actually pretty good and quite infectious. If I had drunk a bit more (vodka) and was with a larger group I think I definitely would have joined the dance floor that night. All-in-all it actually turned out to be quite a fun night, mostly due to the entertainment and fun-loving vibe of the customers who enjoyed dancing to the live music.

PROS: Dinner and live entertainment in one place so it becomes a complete night of entertainment, Friendly natured service staff, You can buy a carafe of 250 ml of vodka, Menu apparently changes regularly although what you see on their website might not be what you get, Plenty of street parking in the area
CONS: Service was a bit absent at times — especially when it came to filling table water and tea & coffee, Didn't seem to get any dessert, They only serve black tea and coffee which wasn't particularly good and had to wait a long time for it, Limited drinks menu including no Russian beers
MUST TRY: Eating the salted Russian herring after a shot of vodka

Cold Meat Platter - Chicken-roll and roast-beef

Marinated mushrooms with garlic and dill

Russian style crisp pickled gherkins

Eggplant Rolls - Tomato wrapped in slices of lightly fried eggplant

Salmon Platter - Smoked Tasmanian Salmon, salted Russian herring with potatoes and Spanish onion rings bliny (crepes) with savoury filling

Waldorf salad

Salad “Olivier” - Classic potato salad with chicken and vegetables

Green Salad

Cabbage rolls with sauce

Bliny (crepes) with mushrooms

Traditional Russian black bread with butter — wasn't served at the beginning and had to ask for it due to being forgotten

Fish with mash potato and white cream sauce — tasted better than it looked

Beef Stroganoff

Tea cup received 9.51 pm but no tea or coffee to be seen

Tea filled 10.09 pm - 18 minute wait

Coffee filled 10.23 pm - 32 minute wait

Table water, although service didn't replenish until being asked

Rawson's Retreat Chardonnay, a shot of vodka following by a salted Russian herring with potatoes and Spanish onion rings to help neutralise the alcohol taste

Limited beer menu — no Russian beers to be had

Pianist to start the night off

Natasha Morozova singing to the audience


Dancefloor popular

Decor details

Trading hours Friday and Saturday 7 pm - 12 am

View Larger Map
Romance Russian Restaurant & Function Centre on Urbanspoon
Romance on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

A shame about the service at the end of the meal... perhaps it's because Russians only drink vodka so they're not used to serve tea or coffee?

joey@forkingaroundsydney said...

14 courses? Bloody heck! I've never really had Russian food before so that would be diving into the deep end!

Anonymous said...

oh I've passed that place so many times, and have been so curious about it! Definitely looks like it could be a fun night out with a big group. Thanks for the enlightening blog post :)

sugarpuffi said...

i was tempted to buy the voucher. looks like a massive feast

Epicurious de Furious said...

"Russian Herrings"....hmn???

In all honesty it is called the Baltic Herring (as in Baltic Sea) or the Atlantic Herring. Therefore I can assure you it is also a "Swedish Herring, "German Herring", "Polish Herring", etc. Take it from me with my subhuman Polish background I know a thing or two about herrings. It doesn't matter what country on the Baltic sea exports them, they are all the same. Note some herrings are cooked like what comes out from Germany, while what is illustrated in your photos in raw fish preserved with salt (and oil). The Germans also have "rollmops" which is the same raw fish without the oil, but it's the same Baltic Herring. Calling them "Russian Herrings" is misleading.
Cheer, Jack

TheLaksaBlog said...

So strange you just did a review for here - I was looking at trying this place just the other week (I do occasionally eat other food besides laksa...)!

In Chicago, there was a great place called 'Russian Tea Time', I don't know if the food at Romance sounds as amazing, but there is a real shortage of Russian/ Eastern European food around Sydney. That and I don't know where most of it is...

Thanks for the review & pics - will come back and comment if I try it out soon.

Simon Leong said...

hi lateraleating, i'm thinking the vodka could have something to do with it :-)

hi joey, 14 courses does sound like a lot. it was manageable actually but it did fill you up by the end of it. a bit of dessert at the end would have been nice.

hi crunchytiger, definitely suitable for a big group just like Tharens http://simonfoodfavourites.blogspot.com/2010/04/tharens-sydneys-first-and-only-fancy.html :-)

hi sugarpuffi, if you were thinking of trying the place then definitely better value with the voucher. otherwise I think it might be a bit expensive at full price.

hi Epicurious the Furious, i remember having rollmops in David Jones food court. thanks for the extra info about the herrings. perhaps they were westernising the name so everything sounds Russian?

hi thelaksablog, if you decide to try it definitely get the voucher as you'll save a lot of money and it'll be much better value. also recommend go with a group. it's more fun than just two I think even though the name is about Romance.

Sara - Belly Rumbles said...

Herrings were/is very popular at my Christmas eve celebrations, but then the Latvians (being on the Baltic) are slightly influenced by Russian and German cooking, so was in form of rollmops. To this day I still can't really face them, not sure why when I think of all the other weird and wonderful stuff I put in my mouth!!

Simon Leong said...

hi sara, perhaps it's childhood memories of having too many that's now put you off or the strong smell. perhaps it's better with vodka :-)

Epicurious de Furious said...

Oi! What's wrong with herrings. I love herrings by the bucket load. I was born in Australia to Polish immigrants. We occasionally ate herrings. Herrings with onions, Herrings with cream (typical Polish recipe). In fact Woolworths sell the kind off herrings shown in this blog. I deliberately bring them to work to piss off narrow minded xenophobic Anglo-Saxons and eat them with a passion. Yes, they are great with vodka, its goes with the atmosphere and ambience of a Russia/Polish,etc culinary experience.
Cheers, Jack

Anonymous said...

Awful restaurant. No atmosphere at all. Went on a Friday night- they advertised live music till midnight. We thought it would be a great place to celebrate dad's birthday. Big mistake! There was no music. No dancing. All the entrees were dumped on the table as soon as we arrived. Main course was crap- overcooked pieces of cheap beef for men or fish for women. The restaurant started clearing out at 8.30pm. They started to turn off lights. We left at 9pm (only arrived at 7.30pm). A very disappointing evening. Poor dad. This place is absolutely awful.

Simon Leong said...

hi anonymous, oh dear. your friday visit definitely sounds a lot different to the time I visited on the saturday. if there was no music or dancing then it would be a very different atmosphere. the entree food tends to come out very quickly as you're seated which I noticed. i think you should email them to tell them of your situation and how it didn't live up to your expectations. perhaps they might try and get you back on a more lively night?

Hamish Liddell said...

A 14-course meal for two does sound like a romantic dinner. Judging from the photographs you attached, it looks like you have quite a hearty meal. If you had to choose, what was your favorite part of the meal? Anyway, I love the cozy ambiance inside the restaurant. It appears to be the perfect place to relax and unwind after a long and tiring week.

Simon Leong said...

hi hamish, i liked the salted Russian herring with potatoes and watching the people go crazy on the dancefloor :-)

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