Unlike his other ventures, Keith McNally’s Pravda is known as a cocktail lounge/bar rather than a dining establishment, although Pravda’s food menu is well worth boasting about also. The décor and ambience is similar to McNally’s other restaurants (Lucky Strike, Balthazar, Pastis, and Schiller’s) with a post-modern Soviet twist. The drink and food menu is Russian-influenced, and you can expect to find cocktails fittingly named Leninade or Kempinsky Fizz, both of which I recommend.
Actually, anything you try on the cocktail list will not disappoint. Every ingredient used in Pravda’s cocktails, down the lemon wedge garnish, is fresh and organic. The bartenders take pride in the fact that every drink has been carefully orchestrated so that the right balance of taste, texture, sour, and sweetness is considered and artfully mixed. My favorite cocktails, in addition to the two above, are the Russian Mary (made with chili- and horseradish-infused vodka) and the Nolita (made with mango-infused vodka).
In keeping with the Russian-inspired theme, there are also over 70 different vodkas offered on the menu. The traditional way to drink vodka is chilled in a shot glass. At Pravda, the vodka will be served brilliantly cold, straight out of the freezer (including the shot glass), with pickled mushrooms as a compliment. Notable offerings include Zubrowka -- a great Polish vodka to try which is slightly earthy and grassy. Staraya Moskva is a rare find and my favorite Russian vodka -- the taste is clean, smooth, and easy to drink. Stoli Gold, also Russian, is always a sure bet. If you can’t decide on a vodka, you might consider ordering the iced rack. With the iced rack, you can sample six different vodka shots arranged in a steel tray packed with shaved ice to keep each shot chilled. In addition to the huge range of vodkas, Pravda also offers its own house-infused vodkas. Two of my favorites are ginger-infused vodka and raspberry-infused vodka.
The food on the menu is a great compliment to the extensive drink list. It varies anywhere from cheap, crispy, and oh-so-good french fries to beluga caviar by the ounce, served with fresh buckwheat bilinis. I would recommend the steak sandwich with fries if you have a big appetite or the smoked salmon and caviar pizza for those that want to share. During winter, the hot and hearty borscht is also a favorite. But (*and this is very important*) leave room for dessert! The chocolate cake is reason alone to frequent Pravda. It’s made to order, so you have to wait about 15 minutes for it to bake, but it is so worth it...the cake is served warm and runny in the middle, with fresh whipped cream on top.
Overall, it’s a lovely winter spot. From the warm, cozy booths to the vodkas to the mulled red wine (this is seasonal, so get it while winter is here), it’s a great place to sample superb drinks, people-watch, and enjoy some good food.
Results 1-2of 2 Reviews
by IgoUgo Staff
New York, New York
December 6, 2004
From journal Christmas in New York City with IgoUgo
New York City, New York, Afghanistan
June 17, 2000
From journal Taste of the Big Apple