Bailey Driver is a creative writer with a penchant for good food and stiff drinks. A traveler by calling he finds amazing places to eat and drink and decided there was no better place to enlighten the masses than right here. His first stop was in Austin, Texas where among the home of BBQ and music lies a strangely Siberian dining experience.
Here's his awesome review with more to come!
Oh Texas, the most ‘Murica place there is. Home of the free and land of the big... I mean brave.
You know what they say, “Everything is bigger in Texas”. Even your typical Soviet Union bars.
Yes you heard correctly. Looking to get your daily Russian fix (as if the news outlets aren’t enough)? Look no further than The Russian House in Austin, Texas.
With infused vodkas, great beer, authentic Ukrainian/Russian food and even some hilarious old school Russian cartoons, let’s hop into this USSR themed place and get to it.
The Russian House holds nothing back when into comes into view.
With its red and gold exterior similar to the colors found in the Red Square, you can spot it from the surrounding buildings with ease. The exterior colors are complimented with beautiful gold floral designs as well.
Take a step inside and enjoy the cold (war) breeze as you take in all the Soviet charm. Before going any further, try on the authentic Russian attire tucked away on the coat racks to the right. They have real ushanka hats and tons of furry coats to don and upload to your Instagram and Snapchat because least be honest, no one uses Facebook anymore.
Depending on preference of food or alcohol will change the type of visit. We recommend immersing yourself fully.
We'll start with the unbelievable list of in house infused vodkas and large collection of authentic Russian beers. With almost one hundred different choices of infused vodka, I could spend a whole article just talking about them, but alas I will be giving you my personal favorites from each section of the menu. Let's dive in.
Booze and Beer
Ah beer, the reason we are all really here, reading my rambling article.
Don’t let their massive amount of infused vodkas fool you. Yes that may be their main attraction, but they do have a great selection of beers. This place shines with their Russian bottled beers, Baltika.
You may not be familiar with Baltika but if that’s true, it's time to get familiar.
Baltika Brewery is actually the second largest brewing company in Europe even though it was launched only in 1990. Back at The Russian House and their bottled beer selection. No matter your preference, the Baltika line has a beer to cater to every tastebud.
Baltika #4 (Bottled)
This euro dark lager is a good choice for anyone (like me) that prefers dark beer only. It has a molasses sweetness to it, with some toasty features along with a equivocal bitter earthy taste from the malted roast. But it isn’t overpowering. If you are a new to dark beer, this a good choice to start with.
Baltika #6 (Bottled)
My favorite beer they carried. I first tried Baltika beer here and it was Baltika #6. I fell in love from the start. This baltic porter pours into a dark brown color with a beautiful mocha colored head, and you can easily smell the chocolate and a tinge of fruitiness.
The taste is where it shines, with it’s chocolaty taste and hints of dark fruit (think black licorice that’s been soaked in black cherry juice). Sweet with some toasted notes but nothing overpowering the other.
I do warn you though, don’t let this one sit as the taste sours as it warms.
Baltika #8 (Bottled)
Baltika #8 is Baltika’s hefewizen style. When poured it appears with a murky yellowish color and a head that's slightly more foamy than creamy. The aroma and taste match well with one another with fruity aroma and hints of banana. This beer is for those who desire a lighter beer on the stomach and prefer ales.
Spaten Premium (Draft)
If you’re looking for a good pint of lighter German Lager, go for Spaten Premium. It has a light yellow pour with a fizzy head. The aroma is best described as a grainy sweet smell.
For a lighter beer, I did enjoy the taste of this one with it’s grassy and honey sweetness to it. Order this for your first draft and you won’t be disappointed.
Spaten Optimator (Draft)
This is the beer I want served at my wedding when my Russian Mail Order Bride arrives.
Jokes aside, every time I visit the Russian House in the mood for a draft, this is the first on my list. The Spaten Optimator pours into a smooth dark brown with a maroon tint and a deep foamy head. The aroma and taste pair well with a “what you smell is what you get" attitude. Sweet hits the nose and tongue with a sugary molasses and fruity flavor.
I tried this beer for the first time paired with Cheburek, dough filled with minced meat and herbs, an authentic Mongolian dish.
Fruit and Vegetable
These infused vodkas make up at least half of the menu with its many fun choices to play with. During my first visit to The Russian House I tried their Mango infused vodka. It was like drinking vodka straight from a mango! A close second favorite is the Elderflower and Orange Vodka. With a perfect balance of flavor it tastes like a St. Germain Cocktail with a twist of orange.
- Apple & Cinnamon
- Passion Fruit
Spicy and Harsh
I grew up in Louisiana, so spicy things are 100% a part of my diet. Their spicy vodka list, though it may be small, is a great one. Choosing only one from this list was hard as I enjoy every single one on this menu of six. Though it was a close call between avocado pepper and horseradish, I had to go with horseradish.
This one had my eyes watering. I loved every tearful moment of it.
- Spicy Mustard
- Juniper & Garlic
Herbal and Floral
Hands down my favorite goes to their rosemary infusion. If I love anything in this world, it’s dogs and anything rosemary. I bathe in rosemary, and their rosemary infusion is life. Try this with their Vinaigrette Salad made with Russian beets.
As for floral, my choice is their lavender infusion, although their jasmine honey infusion was a close second. This one is perfect after a stressful day at work, bosses suck right? The lavender is smooth on the tongue and will leave you wanting a hot bath with Putin himself.
- Spiced Anise
Nuts and Nature
Ah, nuts and nature, what more do you need in life? Vodka.
These two lists are magical. I am not a big fan of nuts but their pistachio infusion is tasty when paired with their Stuffed Mushrooms. Despite no cacti in Russia, they know how to make a sweet cactus and honey infusion I urge you to prick... I mean pick, this one.
- Aloe & Honey
- Christmas Tree
- Wild Mushrooms
Dessert, Unique and Signature
Who doesn’t love dessert and weird things?
Watching your figure? On a diet and counting those calories, but still want your dessert fix? Their chocolate coffee infusion is the perfect fit. Pure heaven.
If you’re a little adventurous then check out their unique list. Finally their signature list is something to marvel at as well. though short it is a great selection. My choice is Chef Vladimir’s infusion made with a variety of more than thirty five herbs and spices.
By the end of the night you’ll be shouting: “Приветствия Матери-России!” (Cheers for Mother Russia!)
- Condensed Milk
- Texas BBQ
Hungry for More?
If you make it past the bar, you’ll end up in their restaurant.
Best described as what grandma’s house would look like if she grew up in the USSR, full of color and even those cute little Matryoshka Dolls (stacking dolls) are everywhere.
If that's not enough to get you to take a seat, then the authentic and hilarious Russian cartoons playing will.
Let’s go through this five course meal starting with the appetizer. Like everything here it was hard to choose a favorite, but their Stuffed Mushrooms are to die for with a perfect balance of cheese and vegetables.
The Stuffed Mushrooms are paired well with the Ukrainian Borsch and their Tarragon Salad which comes with pecans, grapes, cherry tomatoes and served with tarragon goat cheese dressing. I recommend a light vodka infusion with this or for wine lovers, their Mukuzani Dry Red.
The entree that stole my heart and taste buds was the Lamb in Special Sauce, a dish that almost made me run home and erect a Soviet flag in my yard.
This is their chef, Vladimir Gribkov's, signature dish and he does this to perfection. Perfectly cooked lamb chops served with rice, marinated peppers and a freshly prepared vegetable salad.
Eat. This. Now.
A side note, if you’re a vegetarian or gluten free no need to worry as The Russian House, like much of Austin, has both vegetarian and gluten free menus to browse.
If you aren't watching your calorie intake and want to feel like a pig order the Kiev Cake. This is one of the more famous desserts, a specialty cake made in Kiev, Ukraine. A cake so famous that it has become a symbol of Kiev. It is made with layers of meringue, buttercream filling, and nuts.
I won’t judge you for eating more than a slice.
So, if you find yourself in the heart of the Texas’ capital and find yourself wanting some Soviet culture littered with a hundred infused vodkas, great Russian beer, and taste rocking food, find The Russian House step back in time to when Mother Russia was the United States’ best "frenemy".