Who Needs Las Vegas When Brooklyn’s Got Brighton Beach?
It had been a long time since my husband and I had a night out. Sure, we’d had the occasional sitter and gone out to a local restaurant, but I wanted to do something different. I wanted to be reminded that New York City (and Brooklyn especially) is full of possibility – I wanted an all-out adventure. My 5th wedding anniversary was right around the corner, and since we had survived life with a two year old relatively intact, I thought we deserved a proper celebration. As much as I loved the idea of running off to Las Vegas for the weekend, we all know overnights with a sitter are just plain unaffordable – so I did the next best thing. I booked us a table at Rasputin, the restaurant and cabaret in Brighton Beach, got a few of my more daring friends on board with my plan and dusted off my best cocktail dress.
My jaw hit the floor and pretty much stayed there the minute I walked through the door. The two-level restaurant is decorated with over the top floral arrangements, and let’s just say, I’ve never seen a more creative use of balloons.
A drum kit hung from the ceiling and was lit in a rainbow of neon colors. Our only disappointment was that the keyboardist didn’t receive the same treatment. Our elaborate spread of appetizers including smoked fish, seared tuna, pickled fruits and vegetables as well as eight (yes, EIGHT) other items from the “Banquet Noble” were already waiting for us. The food kept coming at us as we listened to lounge style jazz music that made me feel like I had managed to take the B train straight to 1974. Couples danced in suits and the tiniest sequin dresses with impossibly high heels – making me look like a Mormon in my Joan Hollowayesque low-cut dress.
After several bottles of wine and vodka, and our entrees of lamb chops and king salmon, the place was packed. The emcee, basically a Russian version of Rod Stewart, got the night going with a song and a shout out to everyone celebrating a birthday. Then the show started! A series of singers belted out Russian pop tunes. The cabaret act began and it was a mini cirque du soleil. Lots of wings, torn and wispy costumes, white violins and even a couple of trapezes. It was half an hour of what I would dare call: wildly mesmerizing fun.
The cabaret act was followed up by more Russian pop songs, but with the added bonus of backup dancers in gold lamé hot pants. (see TOP PHOTO)
If you want to pack a lot of fun into one crazy evening, I can’t recommend Rasputin enough. The food is good – not great, but combined with the atmosphere and the show, you’re in for an incredibly memorable evening.
Here are a few tips to get you ready for your first visit:
- If you order from one of the “banquet menus” – which start at $110 per person and go up to $165, you are allowed to bring your own liquor which will cut down the cost of your bill. However, you must specify which menu you’d like to order in advance when you make your reservation.
- Rasputin has a professional photographer who will take photos of you and your guests and will provide you with a 8 X 10 color print for $15.00 each. We got several fantastic photos and this is well worth doing.
- The cabaret show doesn’t start until 11pm. If they suggest you make an 8pm reservation, try to see if you can get a 9 p.m. seating. We were the first people there, and things clearly start heating up after 9p.m.
- If you’re going to celebrate a special occasion, bring a cake. Rasputin makes a very big deal out of presenting the cake to the special couple, birthday person, etc.
- If you have no-shows, you will be charged $60 per person who doesn’t show. So absolutely no deciding to stay at home last minute to catch up on Glee!
Paula Balzer is a Brooklyn based literary agent and co-founder of the blog www.adhocmom.com, the blog for freelance and part-time working moms.