Friday, December 29, 2006


London has lots of Russian restaurants, but it's hard to find a place that is authentic (and not in an incompetent, sullen, inedible Soviet canteen kind of way) and reasonably priced. Of the ones I've tried so far, Rasputin - all the way out West in the Polish heartland of Acton - is probably the best of a mixed bunch. It's a small, cosy, unpretentious sort of place on the main road which was totally empty on our visit early one weekday evening. The charming, gregarious owner, from Montenegro, though made it easy to overlook the empty room. We sampled Russian meat dumplings (pelmeni), thei larger Polish cousins with curd cheese (pierogi), pancakes (bliny) with smoked salmon -- all served with lashings of propper smetana (a bit like sour cream). Mains included a chicken kebab and a tomatoey take on beef stroganoff which, some of our party thought was an improvement on the original. All came with piles of veg and potatoes and were washed down with a selection of Eastern European largers and accompanied by cheery Russian pop music on the stereo. We were far too full to contemplate deserts, much to our hostess's disappointment. It came to a fairly reasonable £65 for three, including a free platter of crunchy pickled vegetables as an appetiser. Definitely worth a visit if you are in the area - and if you do, be sure to get in to a chat with the owner.

Rasputin, 265 High Street, W3 9BY. Tube: Acton Town (about 10 mins' walk)

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