Photograph courtsey Facebook/Mari Vana LA
What was once Bastide—that temple of modern gastronomy—is now a fantasized version of Babushka’s living room, complete with bric-a-brac and floral pillows. While the decor may come with a wink, the traditional Russian food does not. A chicken aspic, called holodetz, uses only poultry bones to attain its jiggle. Salo, salted curls of cold pork fat, made the Russian émigré at our table homesick. (The hot mustard had us tearing up, too.) There’s borscht (two kinds!) and potato vareniki (dumplings), as plump as Mama’s cheeks. An accordion player works the crowd, which sips infused vodkas. To the whole oddball enterprise we say, “Nostrovia!” 8475 Melrose Pl., L.A., 323-655-1977 or marivanna.ru/la.