Located at the Conrad Hotel, is a restaurant that is truly one of a kind. Vesna which translates to spring in Russian is the new hotspot for traditional yet contemporary Slavic cooking. Not just your ordinary fine dining set up, what is unique about Vesna is its contemporary floral theme that adorns the entire ambience of the restaurant. The antique and vintage furnishing surely caught our attention and we also loved how spaced out and comfortable the restaurant made us feel.
As we were seated, we got to have a word with the head chef who enlightened us behind the concept and idea of Vesna. We requested the chef to present to us his personal favorites; dishes that are close to his heart and which he feels would tantalize our taste buds. By the look of his expressions, it seemed like he knew exactly what to prepare for us, and rest assured we had a truly enriching Slavic feast!
Of Course, we rarely make a mention of the service offered by a restaurant on our blog unless it is extraordinarily exceptional. Having said that, the kind and attentive service provided by a gentleman named Ivan made us have a connection with Vesna that can never be lost. Not only did he take the time to describe in detail what each dish comprised of, but he also disclosed the symbolism and history of each dish and how they’re significant in Russia, something we found remarkable since it showed how passionate he was about slavic cooking.
It also looked like the saying “First impression is the last impression” was taken relatively seriously at Vesna as the first course was brought to our table. It was a theatrical display of Okroshka Soup which is a Slavic favorite of laban with slow cooked chopped beef and finely diced fresh vegetables served on a hand crafted frozen plate. The frozen plate was quite impressive having flowers adorned within it. Nestled in the frozen plate was the beef, and then poured over was chilled, silky smooth laban with the most perfect consistency. This soup is said to have been very popular in Russia during summer, since it cooled the body down.
Next, was a simplistic yet beautiful presentation of the Olivier Salad with Lobster which is a royal twist on a classic Russian salad. The salad comprised of a blend of baked and boiled vegetables, fresh lobster claw and souce vide chicken, finished off with diced dill pickles and dressed in a homemade mayonnaise and balsamic sauce. We loved the simple flavors and play of texture in this salad. The lobster definitely amped up the flavor as well. However, as opposed to the soup, we found the quantity of this salad to be quite small for such a simple dish.
Next, we sampled a Slavic delicacy known as Vareniki which are Vesna homemade dumplings filled with fresh porcini mushrooms and potato puree garnished with sunflower oil. These dumplings were tender, soft and generously filled. The dough of the dumpling too was extremely thin yet did not tear apart. The consistency of the mushroom and potato puree was smooth as well. An absolute delight!
Another unique dish that was new to the WhereMyFoodAt palette was the Chicken Fritter which is a firm favorite Slavic dish from the chefs own recipe of soft chicken cutlet blended with organic eggs, milk and bullion first lightly fried in sunflower oil then simmered and served with buckwheat that is slow cooked in a traditional slavic oven over 24 hours. Buckwheat is a very healthy grain that if cooked perfectly, has a delightful texture. We loved the combination of the cutlet and the buckwheat – felt like simple wholesome cooking straight from the heart.
For mains we had what we would like to consider the best dish among them all , the Beef Stroganoff! Australian black angus beef slow cooked with mixed champignon, onion, cloves and fresh cream served with spiced potato puree was a real pleasure to devour. The play of flavors and ingredients surely married together perfectly with well thought out portions and clever presentation. Definitely a must try if you plan on visiting Vesna.
The Chakhokbili, which is a classic Georgian slow cooked New Zealand Lamb with white wine, diced tomatoes, bell pepper, eggplant, garlic and coriander was another simple fuss-free dish that we enjoyed. Not the best lamb we’ve had, since it was a tad bit undercooked. But that one flaw is like a needle in a haystack, when we look at the bigger picture of how our entire meal turned out.
Our server did vouch for how addictive Vesna’s desserts were, and he wasn’t wrong. The most popular dessert at Vesna is the Honey Cake which is a light and creamy dessert with layers of sweet and sour cream and toasted honey crunch, garnished with chopped nuts and chocolate. One slice didn’t seem enough for us since it was that light and delicious. The cake wasn’t to sweet and the crunch added a really nice texture, making it really easy for us to devour 10 slices of these easily!
We also had the Anna Pavlova which is fresh strawberries, blueberries and raspberries served with meringue and vanilla cream. The prettiest looking dessert for sure, however not that dominant with taste, since we found it to be a bit too sweet. We wished there were more berries to bring out the tartness in the dessert and to cut through all the sweetness.
Finally, we had the Bird’s Milk which is a vanilla soufflé topped with a light layer of dark chocolate. Definitely a very light and delicate dessert, that makes you feel like you’re savoring sweet snow. The chocolate was a clever accompaniment and balanced the dessert perfectly.
Okroshka Soup – Dhs79
Olivier Salad with Lobster – Dhs138
Vareniki – Dhs78
Chicken Fritter – Dhs144
Beef Stroganoff – Dhs248
Chakhokbili – Dhs174
Honey Cake – Dhs60
Anna Pavlova – Dhs45
Bird’s Milk – Dhs45
Food – 4/5
Service – 5/5
Ambience – 4/5
Value – 3.5/