Monday, December 22, 2014

Vis-à-vis: Something New And Delightful In Brighton Beach

By: Anne M. Raso

I recently hopped on the Q train to Brighton Beach in the quest to try a restaurant that is being publicized as “Brighton Beach’s first fine dining experience.” I have only had Russian food in this neighborhood in the past, and those restaurants tend to run the gamut from mom and pop to fancy, but in general they all serve classic Russian fare without much straying from the usual classics. Vis-à-vis is different; it’s a classy fusion of French, farm to table and Modern American. They have super fresh seafood, grass fed beef and vegetables grown as “close to home” as possible. The décor is on the formal side and the main dining room has a country club feeling while the bar area gives off the vibe of a glamorous Manhattan nightclub with its huge chandeliers and fancy cognacs/armagnacs in big glass cases.

Chef Charles Disa (short for Disanayake) called his cooking “Global Flavors” and he certainly does a great job of blending this flavors. He’s a master of the spice rack putting new spins on traditional eats with his love of ginger, garlic and tamarind. I loved the Zucchini Blossoms Stuffed with Mozzarella, Figs & Mint Chutney ($14) and Herb & Pretzel Crusted Chicken & Bacon Lollipops with House Made Ranch ($10). Both blended foods of different nationalities. The zucchini blossoms rocked with flavor as Chef Disa combined the best tastes of Italy and India together. The “lollipops” were crunchy and golden and the white meat chicken inside burst with juice when I bit into them. The homemade ranch to dip the chicken in was perfectly creamy and had a little bit of a citrusy kick to it.
Ribeye Steak Special
After almost getting full from these wonderfully creative aforementioned appetizers, I then ordered the Steak Of The Day; the night I ate at Vis A Vis the choice was Filet Mignon with Grilled Asparagus, Truffled Mashed Potato & Red Wine Sauce ($42 for a generous 12-ounce portion of meat). My dining partner Gail and I also ordered the Rib Eye ($38), which was a special that evening. It was a big 14-ounce portion served with mixed veggies that included grilled asparagus, red peppers and carrots, tomato basmati stuffed cabbage (for a little Russian flavor) and a foie gras stuffed Golden Russet potato nest. Everything was as magnificent as New York’s great steakhouses, and I had a little bit more of a preference for the ribeye simply because by nature, this cut has more marbling in it. Chef Charles’ red wine sauce is simply “killer” because it features veal stock that takes him 18 hours to make!
Bourbon Butterscotch Filled Cashew and Almond Beignets 
For dessert, Gail and I shared the Bourbon Butterscotch Filled Cashew & Almond Beignets with Bourbon Ice Milk ($10) and Peach Panna Cotta, Orange Blossom Water, Pistachio Crumbles ($11). You can never go wrong with anything butterscotch flavored—at least in my book—so the beignets won over my heart (and palate). I thought that they were served at the prefect warm temperature and the bourbon ice milk was just a perfect accompaniment. The Peach Panna Cotta featured sliced cling peaches in rosewater floating on the top and it reminded me more of a traditional Indian rosewater pudding. The Peach Panna Cotta was a fantastic mix of textures and flavors and probably the lightest dessert on the Vis A Vis menu. The pistachio bits were the perfect crunchy “bonus” to this creamy, sweet dessert.

Is Vis-à-vis worth an hour-plus-long train ride from New York? You betcha! Plus, if you are not one to venture far for good eats, rest assured that Vis-à-vis is only a one-minute walk from the Brighton Beach Q train station. I have the feeling that the friendly Chef Charles has a lot more creativity up his sleeves, so I want to go back and see what’s new on the menu! (He also caters private events and I hear from folks in the Hamptons that he’s done “to die for” weddings and social events out there!)

3100 Ocean Parkway
Brooklyn, NY 11235
(718) 333-0003
Cuisine: Russian/French

Vis-à-vis on Urbanspoon

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