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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 combines the intensity of  “The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming”  with the lush royal banquets of “War and Peace” every week-end.  Its worth the search on this unlighted  stretch of Ventura Boulevard in Studio City   The only clue that there is a party going on inside the building in the non-descript dark strip mall sidewalk are clumps of smokers in party clothes near the door.

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.

Breathtaking display of food on tiered wire holders on each table greet arriving guests. Friendly servers bring drinks and change the platters throughout the evening, including the finest vodka on our table. Beef tongue in garlic sauce, sea bass studded with pomegranate and a spiced cold cut platter 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 potatoes.  Not this evening!  In fact, 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. Ekaterina overheard me saying this and decided to prove me wrong!

Samvel Manukyan, Owner-Managing Partner, oversees the room and works all week on food and entertainment to see that parties run seamlessly.  Sam personally selects provisions and controls work of restaurant every day.  The stage performers eating next to us after their show show his respect and appreciation 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 .

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

For details and information about the À la Carte menu or Premier Super Banquets for  brunch, week-end evenings,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.