A week or so back, we decided to check out the fabled Russian nightlife and cuisine out on Brighton Beach. A quick search on Chowhound pointed us to The Primorski Restaurant out on Brighton Beach Boulevard, rumored to be one of Gary Shteyngart’s favorite haunts (for whatever that may be worth).

Ordinarily, I’d post a restaurant experience in The Eating, but the food was mediocre at best. But the atmosphere? So surreal that it approached the sublime. We were there too early in the evening to get the full cabaret experience, but as we were finishing our meal, an older gentleman in leather pants took the stage with a young blonde woman and an Asian woman of indeterminate age (but, as we were soon to hear, hundreds of years of experience and pain in her husky voice). Vapor puffed out of a little dry ice machine and the disco ball started turning. The man began to sing “Just the Way You Are,” and immediately there were three middle-aged couples swaying on the dance floor. Despite the cruise ship-meets-Blue Velvet feel of the show, it was endearing to see that it’s still the highlight of some people’s weeks to head out for an evening of dinner and dancing. I’m sure things got pretty wild later on, but it was still sedate and easygoing by the time we left, around 10:00. Perhaps later in the spring we’ll return for the full show. And we’ll skip the stuffed cabbage.