This Russian toast sounds like - na zda-rov’-ye. A loose translation is - to our health. Why do I bring this up you ask. Well, the Belle of Ballast Point and I spent this past weekend at the Trade Winds resort on St. Pete Beach, and just up the road was a restaurant I have been looking forward to trying - the Russian themed St. Petersburg Nights.
St. Petersburg Nights bills itself as the only Russian restaurant in the Tampa Bay Area and the home of Eastern European hospitality and cuisine. That hooked me and reeled me in, so I went on-line and booked a table for two through their web site.
We arrived Saturday evening a few minutes before our scheduled seven o'clock reservation and walked into the deserted restaurant. There was no one in the lobby or at the hostess station. We walked around the corner and peered into an empty bar. I spied a server in the back of the dining area and I walked over and asked if they were open. She was in the middle of setting up what appeared to be a group dining table and didn't seem to have time for us.
Another person happened by and asked if we were there for dinner. We said that we thought we were, so we were directed to sit where we pleased. At the far end of the dining area is a small stage. In front of that, a dance floor, and around the dance floor were tables and chairs. We chose a table away from the stage.
After a bit our server arrived with menus. She gave us a few minutes to peruse the menus before taking our drink orders. There were several interesting Russian beers on the menu that I was looking forward to trying. Alas, none were available, but the one Lithuanian beer listed was available. We ordered two of those, and they turned out to be quite satisfying.
To start our meal, I ordered the Beef Tongue Salad and the Assorted Fish Platter. My bride chose the Deviled Eggs. The eggs were under-whelming, but the beef tongue salad was exceptionally good - similar to a chicken salad, but with cooked and chopped beef tongue. The fish platter consisted of a few varieties of pickled and smoked fish. One of the fish was a butter fish, and it was to die for. And yes, it did hint of butter.
For our entrées, I chose the Beef Stroganoff, and my dining partner selected the Forester Roast. The Stroganoff was probably one of the best I have ever tasted. The Forester Roast was similar to a beef pot pie with a baked crust topping, and was declared to be very good.
The Nights advertises live entertainment every Friday and Saturday with international singers, dancers, and bands, plus a Euro DJ after ten. On this Saturday we were treated to the saxophone styling of Boris (sans Natasha) and his band-in-a-box. Resplendent in his white John Travolta disco suit, Boris sang and played for everyone's dining and dancing pleasure.
St. Petersburg Nights looked as if it had seen better days, but the food was worth the trip from the hotel. I don't think I would consider driving over from Tampa, though, but the evening turned out to be a pleasant one.