Sunday, March 9, 2008

Moscow on the Hill

Visited on Friday, March 7th with Leigh, George, Jamie, and Daniel

Outside

Erin's Review
I had heard great things about the food at Moscow on the Hill, so I was excited to try it out. I wasn't quite sure what to expect in terms of decor, but I would compare the place to a random strip mall Chinese restaurant, but with some scarves on the lights. Maybe this is Russian decor - I have no idea. It was kind of blah, especially when we got there since the place was empty, but once it filled up it seemed more fun.

Inside of Moscow on the Hill

I had a martini at the bar while waiting, it was gross. It was mostly gross because I wasn't expecting it to actually taste like straight liquor. I'm too used to the downtown/uptown Minneapolis martinis that taste like grape juice. Once we got to the table, I followed my co-worker Kelley's recommendation and got the champagne with cherry vodka. I'll be honest and say I didn't taste even one bit of cherry vodka in there, but since I like champagne, I enjoyed it!

Marusya Gold

We all decided to split the appetizer sampler and a flight of vodka. I enjoyed the appetizer sampler a lot - it consisted of: scallops, beet salad, liver pate, artichoke heart, salmon, lamb stuffed grape leaves, and blini with chicken. My favorite was the liver pate and the lamb stuffed grape leaves. It was kind of a rip off at $20 but oh well. The flight of vodka was just straight up disgusting. I had a tiny sip of the garlic and caramel vodkas - as expected, I didn't like them at all, because I just don't like straight vodka.

Appetizer tasting platter

For my main dish, on the recommendation of my other co-worker Jenelle, I ordered the Peasant style Pelmini, which had pasta and some meat and mushrooms and cheese and creamy goodness. It was delicious, and VERY rich. I had about 3 bites and was full. I took half home, and it was just as good when I had it for dinner yesterday. I tried everyone else's food too (at Leigh's suggestion) and really liked the walleye that Ben and Leigh got, and the czar's medallions that George got. Daniel had the same thing as me, and Jamie had Russian empanadas (that isn't the technical term, but it is what they looked like) that I didn't really care for.

Peasant style Pelmeni

Overall, I had a great time at Moscow on the Hill - the menu was extensive and there were a lot of other things that looked really good. I'd definitely go back, and it was fun with a bigger group since we could all try other things.

OH! I almost forgot the bread. It was so good. I could have eaten a whole loaf, and the butter was DELISH, it had some flavoring in it maybe chives or garlic or both. At any rate, it was awesome.

Delicious bread and butter

Ben's Review

Erin and I ditched out of work a few minutes early on Friday to head over to Moscow on the Hill in the cathedral hill neighborhood, near the redundantly named Nina's Coffee Cafe. We had 6pm reservations with two of Erin's co-workers and their significant others but we got there a little after 5 to take some photos outside (Erin) and get a drink at the bar (Ben).

I ordered a dark German beer thinking that I might as well get a European beer at a European restaurant, even though they had "old faithful" on tap. Erin mistakenly ordered a martini, forgetting that it wasn't going to be a girly martini you might get at Drink, but was instead strawberry vodka and midori, so I was helping her with that in addition to my beer.

Ben's beer Strawberry fields forever martini

I noticed a beer tap that said "Moscow on the Hill - Light" and I was intrigued - did they brew their own beer here? I called over the bartender and asked him about it. He said that its a beer that is brewed locally for the restaurant, here's how the conversation went:

Me: Is that your own beer?

Bartender: Its brewed locally for us.

Me: So what kind of beer is it?

Bartender: Its local.

Me: Uhh, right. But what style is it?

Bartender: Its a light beer.

Me: Soooo.....is it a lager?

Bartender: Its just like Bud Light or Miller Lite.

Me: Okay then, thanks.

Clearly it was silly of me to think that the bartender would know ANYTHING about the beer that is brewed specifically for the restaurant, but anyways I didn't order it.

Our friends showed up right at 6 and we went to our table. The restaurant was pretty empty when we arrived but by 6 it was nearly full. Our server came over and got our drink order: "Can I get you something to drink? A bottle of vodka?" A bottle of vodka?!? This guy must have known that the gratuity was included for parties of 6 or more, he was already giving us the hard sell! We did order some champagne things with a cherry in them that were pretty good and we also ordered a vodka sampler to share with everyone.

Vodka flight

The sampler consisted of six shots of different flavored vodkas: garlic & dill, horseradish, caramel, pepper, cherry, and tiramisu. I thought the garlic and dill and tiramisu were decent, the pepper was REALLY spicy but it would probably be good in bloody marys. We all grabbed a shot glass, took a sip, and passed the glasses around the table, it was pretty fun to try them all.

For dinner I ordered a walleye broiled in a white wine sauce with rice and vegetables on the side. It was fantastic and huge. I got full part of the way through the meal, but there wasn't enough left for a respectable second meal, so I forged ahead and just finished it there, it WAS delicious after all. Everyone's meal looked really good, although I was put off by the prevalence of mushrooms on the menu, not being a fan of mushrooms and all.

Walleye "Baikal"

We didn't stay too much longer after we ate because we were meeting some other friends at a bar that we had to get to, and our car was parked in a two hour parking zone :)

The ratings:

  • Service: In spite of the bartender who didn't know the beer, the service was great. Our server was very friendly, funny, and attentive.
  • Food: My food was delicious and I heard no complaints from anyone else, its good winter food, very hearty.
  • Drinks: Five or six beers on tap, including Summit, nothing special. They do have fantastic selection of vodka, if that's your thing.
  • Ambiance: When we first got there the atmosphere was subdued because there were hardly any customers, but by the time we sat down to our table the place was a little more lively. The decor of the restaurant is a little bland and not really Russian, like I was expecting.
  • Price: The prices are towards the high end for casual dining, my meal was $15 but I thought it was a good value for the quality and size of the meal. The six of us split the bill and for us two of us it came to $72 with tip.
  • Convenience: No parking lot, but plenty of street parking. Its also just off of 94 & Dale, very easy to get to.
Leigh loves her vodka!
(Leigh with her vodka - she recommends Moscow on the Hill too!)

Deets:
Moscow on the Hill
371 Selby Ave
Saint Paul, MN

Recommended
for the great service and comfort food.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm glad everyone had a fun time at Moscow on the Hill. Please note that there are two dining rooms and the original smaller one is more fun and not as generic. There is also a patio open in the summer which my husband and I enjoyed sitting. Sometimes there is an accordian player too.
Besides the awesome pelmini, the borscht is also delish. The drinks are strong as they do not skimp on the alcohol. I usually got wine instead of a martini because the martinis really had a kick! It can be pretty pricy, I agree but it is nice to have tasty leftovers. Check out their dessert menu too. I love their chocolate mousse! We thought the vodka flights flavors seemed a little gross and have not tried them but the cherry vodka is great. We (hubby and I) have been going to Moscow on the Hill since 2001 and it has always been one of our favorites. Can't wait to go back! I need to try other things besides the pelmini, I am so hooked on it.

Jenelle

Justin Chase said...

Great photos, what kind of camera are you using?

Erin & Ben said...

Thanks! I use a Canon Rebel XTi DSLR for most of the photos on the site, some of them are with our point-and-shoot which is a 3 year old Sony Cybershot.

Bob Collins said...

We too my in-laws up to Moscow on the Hill a few years ago and had a great time. The Polish beer was good, too. But our favorite time came,actually, when leaving. The very dour faced accordion player pointed to his tip jar on the way out. Very funny, although I'm pretty sure he wasn't kidding.

Adjoa-Gennesaret said...

I have been looking for a blog like this for such a long time! I live in Minneapolis, and am always having a hard time finding a specific type of restaurant, that I decided to start my own blog. I am going to Moscow on the Hill tonight and I was looking for images and reviews. Thanks alot, I'm thinking of getting the Palmini now.

Jennifer said...

This is one of our fave restaurants. We have been going for about 15 years now. Incredible food, great atmosphere (especially as the evening goes on), wonderful for large groups, and staff who are professional and make you feel very welcome. You should try some of the Russian bottled beer as well - very good.

Unknown said...

How are you gonna review a vodka bar if you dont like vodka lol