Written by Hulda Lawrence
By the way, the decor is fine with paintings, drawings, objects d'art, etc. We are the lucky ones, because Baroness Irina von der Lauritz forced her wealthy husband to re-create the excitement and opulence of her homeland. He did and we can appreciate his efforts. It was all accomplished around her favorite ballet. In fact, on the upper floors there is a small parlor where a baby grand piano and period furniture are set. On the same floor the Blue Room presents original 1910 Firebird Ballet costumes and in another room there are crystal chandeliers and natural moonlight comes in from the upper skylight. On the third floor is a the Red Room "Jewel of Russia" and living room with access to a roof garden. These rooms can be used for private parties.
On another visit we will try choices from the Caviar Tasting Menu. All caviar is served with blini or toast points. The Red Tasting Caviar is $30 for Trout Roe or Alaskan Salmon Roe and Black Tasting Caviar is $140 for 1.2 ounces.
The cuisine is not familiar to us but we thoroughly enjoyed it. Joseph Valentine, the managing partner, aided us with our selections and Chef Paul Joseph, although not Russian, has done a good bit of research on the special foods.
First of all, there are more than 200 vodkas from all over the world, with a sizable group from the USA and Russia. FIrebird Carafes are $50 for six shots: $80 for ten shots. Firebird Vodka Flights are three shots for $25; six shots for $50. Our waiter, Ishmael, gave us some good advice on our cocktails. My companion chose a Russian Standard Martini, $15, and my selection was Czarina's Kir of House Honey Infused with Perrier-Jouët Champagne, $20. It was so good I opted for a second instead of wine. All the drinks had fascinating names such as From Russia with Love, Moscow Mule and Pushkin.
As we sipped our drinks we looked over the Prix-Fixe Lunch Menu which stated $21 for two courses with several choices. The first course appetizers included Firebird Garden Salad, Pelmeni (lamb dumplings), Soup of the Day, Lobster Versasia (avocado butter, lemon citronade) and Herring with a Fur Coat (chopped pickled herring, beets, potato, egg), Gravlax and Olivier (kielbasa, potato, carrots and peas). In Russia these small plates are called Zakuski. Often the chef will prepare specials which are not listed on the menu, but are available upon request. We chose the Herring and Lobster and found them quite tasty.
The main course choices include Smoked Paprika Skirt Steak, Beef Stroganoff, Paprika Pork Loin, Podjarka Chicken Breast and Ultimate Lamb Burger. We ordered the Cedar Roasted Salmon done with kasha, queen olives, confit tomatoes, herb provence; and the Fennel Pollen Dusted Muscovy Duck Breast with Mashkitchiri and Honey Vodka Fondue. Both were delicious.
Desserts include Crême Brûlée, Bananas Foster, Ice Cream, and Ptichye Moloko or Bird's Milk with Melted Chocolate over a milk crème souffle. These are ala carte suggestions.
On the main floor where we lunched the golden apple tree of the Firebird is installed. So many words have been spent on the decor and ambiance because the exceptional food and drink are influenced by them.
Firebird has a gift shop where all sorts of Russian souvenirs can be bought. Bring money because it is not inexpensive.
Note: During the month of June the restaurant is celebrating the American Ballet Theatre's new production of the Firebird Ballet at the Metropolitan Opera House. In honor of the ballet the restaurant has created a prix fixe menu for theatregoers priced at $44.95 per person. Anyone showing tickets will receive $5 off prix fixe menu.
Hours: Open seven days a week from 5p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday and 5p.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. A pre-theatre menu is available. Lunch is served Monday through Saturday from 11:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The dollar sign indicates the approximate cost of dining for two persons, excluding beverages, tax and gratuity.