Tag Archive | Disco

Rasputin Restaurant & Cabaret: A Taste of Russia!

Welcome to Rasputin! ( Image Source)

On the topic of a visit to Brooklyn’s famous Russian hotspot, Rasputin Restaurant & Cabaret, whether you read an online review or ask people who’ve been there what to expect, what you’ll likely hear is that you are in for a real “Experience” – capital E intentional. Rasputin successfully combines an evening of multi-course fine dining with a full sensory night of entertainment that progresses from live singers to a Las Vegas Style floor show to an afterhours disco inferno. Every step of the way you can immerse yourself in an authentic slice of Russian American culture.

Pomegranate Bliss Cocktail: Drink a few of these to start the night off right! (All Photos By Anne Raso)

Upon arriving, my friend Anne and I were greeted warmly by the manager, Serge, who promptly seated us at the “best seats in the house” –  one of two tables arranged at the front of a beautiful, horseshoe-shaped second floor balcony overlooking the stage, dance floor and all the diners down below. From where we sat, we felt like we were spying on a very lavish wedding feast and its accompanying reception; and though we were slightlyremoved from the immediate festivities (being seated away from the dance floor) we felt very much a part of the jubilant atmosphere permeating Rasputin on a Saturday night.  It did seem apparent that many people come to Rasputin specifically to celebrate a special occasion (birthday, anniversary or whatever), or at the very least to just enjoy dining with a large group of friends. With the plentiful food served family-style on huge platters, this place is the ideal venue for a one-stop festive evening of dining and dancing.

An evening at Rasputin is as much about the entertainment as it is about the food, and while the two take place simlutaneous, let’s get to the food first. Since there were just two of us, the restaurant staff tailored one of the simpler “banquet” menus to accommodate our small party. I would recommend dining at Rasputin with a minimum party of four, because this place definitely has a “the more the merrier” vibe, which is reflected in the menu’s array of “banquet” prix fix menus ranging in price and extravagance from The Noble Banquet, which we were served ($75 pp Friday and Sunday, $100 pp Saturdays and Special Events) up to the Banquet Rasputin ($145 pp Friday and Sunday, $165 Saturdays and Special Events). Each Banquet features literally dozens of dishes including appetizers, first and second courses, entrees and desserts – so no one is leaving hungry, that is for sure. They do offer an ala carte menu, but if you really want to taste a lot of different Russian foods, as we did,  you’ll get the best value by choosing one of the banquets. Drinks are another matter entirely. Anne and I cut ourselves off after two cocktails, but it is customary to order a bottle of vodka chilled on ice for the table and just let it flow freely throughout the evening.

Our first courses consisted of an array of mayonnaise-based salads such as potato salad with boiled eggs and vegetables, chicken salad studded with sliced grape tomatoes (seasoned with just a pinch cayenne pepper) and a delicious shredded crab salad served with boiled shrimp (pictured above). Of note was a delicious selection of Seared Ahi Tuna with a Sesame Seed Crust served with Creamy Wasabi Sauce that was absolutely mouthwatering. The hot foods were up next!

Yukon Gold Potatoes & Mushrooms a la Moscow were hearty and delicious.

Parisian Pierogi stuff with Mushrooms, Meat and Cheese. The flaky croissant pastry elevated these pierogis to a level above the boiled or fried variety that you’ll find at a Ukrainian diner such as Veselka.

Roasted Quail with Wild Rice: The bird was tiny but tender.

Next up: Lambchops and Chicken Kabob with Whipped Potatos. The chicken was super tender while the lamb came off the bone easily and was perfectly juicy. The fresh rings of raw onion added a kick of flavor.

A “light” dessert of mixed fresh fruit and mini, mousse filled pastries was challenging to sample because we were so stuffed from all of the delicious foods we’d already indulged in. Most of the portions could have easily fed two more people. Fortunately, our attentive waiters were happy to pack up most of our leftovers so that the feast could continue the next day.

And now, a few words about the entertainment!

The pre-show entertainment features a variety of talented nightclub singers who take turns performing solo or in duets, accompanied by a live guitarist and backed by prerecorded rhythm tracks. The two female singers performed what might have been Russian pop dance standards (we could not understand the lyrics but everyone in the place seemed to know the songs very well) mixed with American pop favorites, and even a medley of Gypsy Kings covers which packed the dance floor with energetic couples. The music was great and we were soon swept up in a feeling of celebration. It is easy to see that Rasputin is where many Russians go not only to be reminded of their home country, but also to seriously party!

Close to Midnight, it was time for the main event! The lights went down as projections on the screen behind the stage announced that we were about to be treated to “Pure Emotions.” Pure Emotions consisted of a series of elaborately costumed and choreographed musical dance numbers, meant to interpret various emotions, such as Joy, Love and Ecstasy among others. Despite the show’s overt cheese factor (think: Chris Angel), I have to admit it was a lot of fun! The dance numbers range from a traditional Russian dance by a lone male dancer to a quartet of dancers clad in black robes and white, glow-in-the-dark Phantom of the Opera-style face masks, to a group that Anne and I nicknamed the “Russian St. Pauli Girls,” who danced an upbeat routine to Madonna’s “Respect Yourself.” One of my favorite sections of Pure Emotions was entitled Ecstasy, where a stage full of dancing gypsy girls dressed in peasant blouses and full  skirts somehow managed to reveal layer upon layer of different colored fabric so that their skirts changed color  from black to green to red to a floral print as they danced. The finale, Triumph, was soundtracked by an earnest cover of Queen’s “The Show Must Go On” and featured actual aerial acrobatics – not as impressive as Spiderman: Turn off The Dark, but still pretty cool!  

According to Michael Levitis, Vice-President of Entertainment and Marketing, and part of the family that owns the restaurant, “Rasputin is modeled after the leading Moscow cabarets and nightclubs.” We called it a night close to 2 AM with the disco dancing still in full swing, feeling that we had just experienced a little bit of Moscow’s nightlife in Brooklyn!

Rasputin is located at 2670 Coney Island Ave in Brooklyn, NY. Phone (718) 332-8111 for Reservations. Expect a well-dressed crowd and plan your wardrobe to impress!


RIP Boney M Frontman Bobby Farrell

Farrell with the Lovely Ladies of Boney M

Bobby Farrell, outrageous front man for the German disco group Boney M has passed away on December 30th, 2010, following a performance in Russia. He was 61, and the cause of death is under investigation at this time. While Boney M were virtually unknown in the US, the group was absolutely huge in Europe, scoring great chart success with hits like “Ma Baker,” “Rasputin,” “Daddy Cool” and the Christmas favorite, “Mary’s Boy Child.” I was first introduced to the music of Boney M by my friend Randy, and their videos were always an in-demand and much-loved staple of his semi-annual video parties. Bobby’s dance moves were unrivaled.

Please enjoy the video for “Daddy Cool” – one of my favorite Boney M Songs – below. RIP Bobby. You were truly one of a kind.

Crazy Like a Fool

MacArthur’s Park is Melting in The Dark

A Cake in the Rain
Image Source

Holy shit. I was just in the local bodega buying a bottle of dish washing liquid and a housewarming gift for some friends I’m visiting later (pot holder / oven mitt / dish towel set – so cute!) and Donna Summer’s extended disco dance mix of “MacArthur Park.” came on. And I almost lost my shit right in there the store, because that song is just insane. You know, it’s Donna’s version that goes on for, like, 20 minutes and just takes off on its own little journey? Hot damn, what a great fucking song.

When I was a kid in the ’60s, listening to Richard Harris’s overwrought, melodramatic version of this arguably enigmatic song, I thought the lyrics were meant to be taken literally, and I could not comprehend why the fuck someone would leave a fucking cake out in the rain. I mean, what the hell? It used to just kill me; wondering why the person singing had left what must have obviously been a very delicious cake (hence the degree of chagrin this act caused) out in the rain? And why would they “never have that recipe again”? What did it all mean, and why did it feel like the world was ending over some fancy pastry every time he sang that line? Even back then, I was a big fan of cake, so “MacArthur Park” never failed to cause me significant emotional distress. Because, anyone can see that cake left out in the rain is bad news.

Of course, now that I’ve lived life to adulthood, and had the opportunity to have my heart stomped on and ground into tiny pieces of detritus, I understand that the lyrics to “MacArthur Park” are a metaphor for tragically lost love. It’s a sad song, for sure.

Even now, I would still rather have the cake.

Disco Table: Psychedelic Dining at Its Finest

Last Spring, Geoffrey and I had a blast visiting the Guggenheim museum to see their pop art exhibit. In one of the lower level galleries they had installed a multicolored, LED disco floor that we particularly enjoyed, as it quickly induced fun hallucinations and flashbacks just by looking at it. Good times. You can probably imagine then how much joy I experienced when I found this rad L.E.D. Dining Table on Evil Mad Scientist Dot Com.

Here is the story from the site:

“This is our dining table. We built it because we needed a new dining table, and I guess we’re just that kind of people. It has a frosted glass top lit by 448 multicolored LEDs that respond, in a complex and gentle fashion, to input generated by motion above the table while we eat.” How awesome is that? Detailed instructions on how to make your own version of the table can be found HERE. Bon appetite!

Thanks to Tracy at Modern Urban Living for the tip!