By Amy McCarthy
By Scott Reitz
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
Taste of Europe, bearing a closer resemblance to a roadside diner-souvenir shop than a sophisticated trinket and noshing hole, was opened late last year by Mikhail Frumkin, who 23 years ago made his way to Dallas from Minsk, a city once nestled near the western edge of the Soviet Union but is now in the heart of the republic of Byelorussia. Frumkin operates a 3,000-square-foot warehouse from which he feeds Taste and his shop Russian Island in the Dallas Galleria with collectibles, cultural artifacts and artwork. He once operated a small cafe in Russian Island but now zeros his food lusts exclusively on Taste.
This is where he serves chicken tabaca: a split and flattened game hen rubbed with garlic and salt and seared in a skillet flooded with melted butter. It's delivered as a neatly severed pair of wings and a pair of legs with thigh attachments. It's perfect: juicy and loaded with shrill garlic flavor--not a bad thing.
Dishes come with the same sides: raw and flaccid red onions thinly sliced, and a hash called exotic rice. Though the rice was firm and separate, it was oily. But the flavor sings, fueled by aromatic spices (cardamom) and pebbled with raisins and slivers of carrot.
1901 W. Pioneer Parkway
Arlington, TX 76013
But salt perhaps defines the most famous dish in annals of Russian cuisine. In the late 15th century, a dry lake near Moscow contained enough of the valuable food preservative to make mineral exploiter Feodor Stroganoff and his progeny the wealthiest clan the world has ever known. By the 1600s, fueled by salt proceeds, the Stroganoffs had amassed millions of acres of Siberia, among the most valuable real estate in the world with its hefty deposits of gold, timber and iron ore. Yet the most widely known Stroganoff legacy is a simple stew: beef Stroganoff, named after 19th-century diplomat and gourmet Count Paul Stroganoff. Here the meat rests in a smooth wine-cream sauce that is delicately rich. Beef chunks have clean breeding, too: chewy and void of fatty or gristly pockets. But the dish needed more of that precious Stroganoff seasoning.
Taste has one German staple: strudel. It's transmogrified a bit with the flaky pastry sandwiching a core of apple slices embedded with whole strawberries and topped with a sheet of thick Russian cottage cheese. The firm cheese is rich with a slight tang hooking a whisper of sweetness on the finish. With a little grim bitterness, this strudel could serve as a metaphor for all things Russian.
1901 W. Pioneer Parkway, Arlington, 817-275-5530. Open 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; open 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday $-$$