The evening started horribly--an excruciating traffic jam outside the Hollywood Bowl, the worst I've experienced. Then no place to park when I reached my destination.
And then--pure enchantment that wiped away the angst.
The place: Premier Restaurant & Bar in Studio City. Inside, nothing but music, fun, happy people, an amazing floor show and very good food.
This Russian restaurant is open only Friday through Saturday, when it is jammed with celebrations--four or five birthdays the night I was there, weddings, banquets and any kind of special event. Each birthday was treated to a ceremony on stage with the birthday cake (above).
The women are gorgeous, dressed in the best from their closets. The men looked good too, no jeans and T-shirts. They dance with enthusiasm, whether they have a partner or not, and the music never stops.
If this is Russian style, count me in. The room glittered, elaborate bouquets marked the party tables and the food was sumptuous. On my table it had to be stacked in tiers, the only way it could fit. And these were just the appetizers. The main dishes came later, accompanied by more rounds of vodka.
I know little about Russian cuisine and this wasn't what I expected. Rather than borscht, potatoes and cabbage, we ate delicate salmon and tuna sashimi (above)--marinated fish and meats are specialties of the chef, Azat Hovakimian.
Hovakimian (above) works to please a great variety of tastes. The restaurant is popular with Armenians and the Jewish community as well as Russians and is attracting more and more of the general population.
It was impossible for a table of three to eat this much food in one night. Not to worry. I am now on my third night of leftovers, neatly packaged and handed to us by the servers as we left.
Premier Restaurant & Bar is open for dinner only and offers a selection of set menus at different prices as well as some a la carte food. Sam Manukyan, the owner, runs a tight ship, so service is as good as the food. Click here to learn more about the restaurant and see the menus. The address is 12743 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, CA 91604. Tel: 1(818) 623-8844.