Newly opened in the Gaslamp is Pushkin, a restaurant that aims to highlight Russian cuisine while also paying tribute to signature dishes from neighboring countries that were once part of the Soviet Union.
There's traditional borscht, blini with caviar and classic Chicken Kiev, but owner Ike Gazaryan is introducing lesser-seen dishes, including pelmeni, Russian dumplings stuffed with savory fillings and ukha, a rich long-simmered fisherman's soup made with sturgeon, rice and potatoes; from Armenia, there is shashlik, marinated and grilled proteins that range from chicken to rack of lamb. Beverages include Russian sodas and fresh lemonade flavored with tarragon or raspberry; by the end of the year, Pushkin should have a liquor license that will allow it to serve beer, wine and naturally, an extensive collection of chilled vodka, but for now it's BYOB.
The space, which seats 120 across two dining rooms and an outdoor patio, has been repainted and re-floored. Gazaryan, whose mother is a poet, named the restaurant after Russian literary legend Alexander Pushkin; a library wall holds books of poetry that can be borrowed by diners to read at their tables.
Now open for lunch and dinner, Gazaryan says he plans to launch a Russian breakfast menu on weekends, starting in December. The eatery will also host poetry readings, live music and comedy nights.