Best Russian Restaurant - 2006
A wide array of Russian bookstores, gift shops, newspapers, delis, bakeries, and community organizations ribbon the Richmond District, where fleeing White Russians settled after the revolution and the mother tongue can be heard as often as Korean or Irish. The colony's outstanding troika is the onion-domed Russian Orthodox Church at Geary and 26th Avenue, the European Foods grocery at Clement and 32nd Avenue, and Katia's, a trim, cheerful repository of old-country cooking. Start with yeasty, delicate blini topped with caviar, smoked salmon, pickled herring, and sour cream. Next up: a hearty bowl of beet-red borsch. And the main event perhaps cutlets Pozharski, patties of butter-rich chicken fried until golden brown, or shashlik, sliced lamb marinated in garlic and wine and served with kasha and a rainbow of bell peppers. For dessert there's the awe-inspiring Pavlova, a meringue boat filled with whipped cream and fresh fruit kissel, or, on the lighter side, a glass of hot tea with homemade green fig, apricot, or black currant jam stirred in. Katia's also hosts private tea parties complete with samovar and podstakanniki (part of the tea service) for the true balalaika lover.