Finally, that new Ukrainian restaurant you've been dying for...or not. Tasting Table introduces us to Pasadena's recently opened Roxolana, named for a concubine of such legendary beauty that she stole the heart of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, even if her official palace portrait indicates she'd been going a little crazy on the pampushki. We like the whole Vlad the Impaler aesthetic of the restaurant's website, which tells us this spot is more Romanov than Troyka on the inside. But what's on the menu?
The cuisine comes from the culinary union of father and son Alex Balinsky and Igor Zagorodony and adheres to traditional Russian-Ukrainian favorites like golubsty stuffed cabbage rolls, salmon gravlax, the ubiquitous egg, black olive, and carrot-heaped salad Olivier (only this one refreshingly stuffs the egg with salmon roe), borscht, and shaslik, along with a few pasta dishes, French steak, and a Caesar salad. The prices are a little more New Russia than old, but the website claims this is Southern California's "sole Ukrainian restaurant," which isn't exactly correct, considering you can eat, and eat quite well, on the patio of Ukrainian Babushka.
But it's clear these chefs, under general manager Greg Napier, are looking to create the ultimate go-to Ukrainian experience in the area, with a fairly comprehensive menu, a selection of wines that includes Georgia and Slovenia, and enhanced attention to detail from your usual Russian cafe. Check out the website and see photos on Facebook.
Roxolana, 34 S. Raymond Ave. Pasadena. 626-792-0440.