From Russia With Love
1424 156th Ave NE
Bellevue WA 98007
'Very, Very Clever, Mr. Bond'
By: Bryan R
** ATTENTION **:
From Russia with Love has closed as of December 2007 and has been replaced with a Middle Eastern grocer and deli. However, the original deli location at Crossroads Mall is still alive and well, but only serves limited sandwiches and assorted Russian bakeries.
Playfully named after the 1963 James Bond film, From Russia with Love has offered authentic Russian cuisine to the East Side community for several years. Located on a nondescript corner off one of the many strip malls of Bellevue, at first glance you may not even suspect its presence.
As we stepped into From Russia With Love we noticed how the color red dominated the interior design. But aside from a handful of posters and a television broadcasting Russian news and cartoons, the main seating room was sparse. After we glanced over the relatively brief menu, we placed our orders and seated ourselves at one of the many available tables. The tables and chairs were fairly ordinary and slightly on the uncomfortable side and suggested that From Russia with Love is mostly intended for a quick bite and not much more. We waited about ten to fifteen minutes for our food to arrive while, in the meantime, we were served water, some bread and enjoyed watching the end of the Russian newscast.
Just as the television changed from news to a quirky cartoon, our meal made its way to our table. For our lunch, we sampled the pan-fried chicken cutlet and the fresh beef cabbage rolls. The chicken cutlet was fairly simple entree made of minced chicken with onion and bits of parsley, lightly pan-fried in oil resulting in something slightly reminiscent of chicken fried steak. It was a touch bland but perked up with a bit of salt. Served on the side was a mixture of pickled, chilled vegetables such as cabbage, onion and perhaps turnip. Besides the pickled veggie melody, the cutlet included a serving of steamed barely that had a potato-like consistency and tasted faintly of beans (and it's probably a health nut's fantasia).
Steve decided to try the cabbage rolls stuffed with ground beef, carrots, and onions and then spiced with seasoning. Though decent, the rolls were not fully satisfying (much like Moonraker). However, the shredded beet salad served on the side was colorful, subtly creamy and remarkably good. The dish also came with steamed buckwheat rice which our reviewer found wholesome but slightly gritty.
Unlike the critical acclaim for the movie “From Russia with Love”, the reviews for our lunch were only lukewarm. Although the chance to enjoy relatively authentic Russian cuisine is hard to come by in our area, we found the food to be slightly bland and not the best value (although slightly larger portions could remedy this). The ambiance is not exactly a draw either. But if you’ve never tried Russian cuisine and would like to pick up a few Russian goodies to boot, From Russia with Love may be worth the visit.
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