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Premier Restaurant & Bar Makes “Old Traditions from New Russia”

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(Gerry Furth-Sides) “old Traditions from New Russia” is the motto of Premier Restaurant & Bar Banquet Hall – the old being the gorgeous, bountiful banquet tables and flowing “wodka” with new, refined Russian/French/middle easter fusion cuisine leading to a jam-packed evening of dining, music, dancing floor show and a parade of midnight birthday celebrations complete with sky-high sparklers.

Premier Restaurant & Bar in Studio City combines the intensity of  “The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming”  with the lush royal banquets of “War and Peace”  every week-end in  on a dark stretch of Ventura in Studio City.  The only clue from the outside on the non-descript strip mall sidewalk are clumps of smokers in party clothes outside.

It is a world onto itself once you step into the banquet center to the  liveliest, more delicious and seriously high energy level banquet party inside.  You
know the party is serious when bottles of the best scotch scotch and wine appear on the table. Tall cylinder vases topped with dripping flower bouquets call out, “celebration.”

Shaped like a backward “L,”,the room holds individual parties at rounder long communal tables . Everyone has a few of the bandstand in the center corner angle.

Arrivals are greeted with breathtaking display of food on tiered wire holders on each table. Servers bring drinks and change the platters throughout the evening, including the best polish Vodka on our table . Beef tongue in garlic sauce, sea bass studded with pomegranate, platters layers with spiced cold cuts were our favorites.

Beef Tongue in Garlic Sauce


Delicate Chicken Liver Paté with toast points

We expected lots of heavy dishes, laden with cabbage and potato.   No cabbage or borsht this evening and the only potato dish with mushrooms was creamy and light.  Potato chips added to succulent shrimp in a creamy sauce added a new seafood definition to “fish and chip”!

About the only thing that was not unexpected was the Blintzes with Red Caviar. This caviar was flown in from Siberia.

The Fried eggplant studded with pomegranate and almonds, with grilled red pepper shows the chef’s care, color and unique combinations.  Skirt Steak with Fresh Garden Salad, Assorted cold cut Meat Platters, and Potatoes with Marinated Mushrooms were representative of other dishes.

Chef Azat Hovakimian, who honed his experience at a number of European and Middle Eastern restaurants, is best known for his lamb chops, marinated meat and elegant fish dishes. Chef came out to greet us,  low key and cordial in the midst of serving 250 guests.


But the drink and food is only the beginning!  Once guests enter and greet each other at their own communal banquet tables, every single one of them dressed in their finest with not a woman in pantsuit in sight, the lights dim and the music begins.  The driving Russian rock draws guests to the dance floor until the tables are about empty – with a break only for the dramatic floor show.


As exciting as the floor show is, individual birthdays are the evening’s highlight around midnight.  Each birthday group plans their own music.  A birthday cake, each more towering and eye-popping than the one before, is paraded across the room lit with showy sparklers, to the party now at the stage.  The whole room sings to the honoree and dances to their music.  What fun!

Our hostess, Ekaterina Lesiuk, invited me because I had mentioned that my Russian would not take me to a Russian restaurant, claiming  people only drank, smoked and put their cigarettes out in their plates of mediocre food.  At the same time, this couple entertained me at their home for marathon noon to midnight get-togethers  with non-stop food and drink.  We enjoyed so much vodka at one of them that no one could remember the brilliant name we decided on for their forthcoming restaurant.

Samvel Manukyan, Owner-Managing Partner, who oversees that parties run seamlessly.  The performers are next to us after their show – representative of his respect for the staff.

Our hosts, Ekaterina Lesiuk, Marketing Consultant, and owner/managing partner, Samvel Manukyan.

Popular among Russian, Jewish, Armenian community for Birthday anniversary and  special occasion parties, Americans are discovering it for the live music and floor show entertainment that makes it a private, communal .  Sam personally selects provisions and controls work of restaurant every day.

I always said that Russians work hard and play hard.  Premier restaurant is proof.

For details and menus for the brunch, week-end evenings,  À la Carte Premier Super Banquet.please see www.restaurantpremier.com

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Gerry Furth-Sides

Gerry Furth-Sides

Content Editor/Columnist

Photo-journalist Gerry Furth-Sides has been covering the ethnic and American culinary scene in California since it first came into prominence 25 years ago.