Magazine article The New Yorker

Russian Samovar;

Magazine article The New Yorker

Russian Samovar;

Article excerpt

256 W. 52nd St. (212-757-0168)--There are two main reasons people go to the Russian Samovar: to drink house-infused vodkas in semiprecious hues (horseradish, coriander, cranberry, pear, and many more) and to see Roman Kaplan, a gregarious and worldly native of St. Petersburg, who opened the restaurant nearly twenty years ago. (His friends Mikhail Baryshnikov and the late Joseph Brodsky both invested at some point.) Kaplan is one of those genial spirits who seem to know--or want to get to know--everyone. On a recent night, he paused at a table for a quick hello, then excused himself: he had to attend to the pair of Russian aristocrats sitting in the corner booth. When he returned, it was with a Martini, and there were introductions all around. After meeting one young lady at the table, he said, musingly, "Ah, Emily!" and seemed about to recite some verse, vast tracts of which he has reportedly memorized. Instead, he gave a little lesson on the samovar, the tea urn that was the centerpiece of every Russian table. He collects them, in brass and silver, and displays them around the place.

There is a murky glamour to the Samovar. Tasselled lampshades, absinthe green and cherry red, cast an intimate glow over every table and booth. …

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