You probably know, or maybe you don't, that my reviews are mostly founded on at least a couple of visits to a restaurant. Only in extreme cases do I write a review after only one visit, and that's when it's immediately obvious to me that a place is beyond all hope and salvation. Therefore, Russian restaurant Slāvu caused me a bit of a conundrum. Having been there quite a few times, I went for a final time to solidify my opinion, only to discover that the menu had been stripped. Badly. Most of my favorites of yore were gone. Therefore, this review will be a bit unusual: it will be not so much about Slāvu's present as about its past and its potential future. Try to think of it as an assessment of its potential.
”even the old karaoke violin player they used to have would liven the place up”
Slāvu used to occupy the Old Town premises where you will now find Thai Station, then suddenly disappeared for quite some time only to suddenly pop up in new premises one floor above Nabaklab. For the new Slāvu, they went for a rather stiff, formal look. There are not many colors to break the sober monotony of the white walls, ceiling and tablecloths. If you're in a gloomy mood, the atmosphere is almost sepulchral. This impression is emphasized by the fact that there rarely seem to be any guests there. All the times I've been there it's been virtually empty, which is odd, considering that old Slāvu is one of the few places where it's sometimes been difficult getting a table. The atmosphere would improve considerably if they would dim the lights and place live candles on all tables. Even the old karaoke violin player they used to have would liven the place up.
Now, let me tell you about the dishes you are no longer able to have at Slāvu (consider this the ”eulogy” part of the review). And I write these words with a heavy heart, because this was some truly great food. Primarily I miss two dishes: the Stroganoff and the cheese-covered dumplings with mushrooms. Not only was the Stroganoff among the most solid meals I've ever had, it was also absolutely delicious. And the dumplings... I could honestly eat those all day long. The dumplings you can still find in the menu don't even come close. Also, I dearly miss a great dish which, if I remember the phrasing in the menu correctly, was a "huge piece of meat" with oven-baked potatos and garlic cream sauce. Now, the meat wasn't exactly huge, but the dish was really tasty and filling.
”i could honestly eat those all day long”
It's every restaurant's right to do whatever they want with their menu, but I'm still negatively surprised as to why they chose to remove precisely these crowd-pleasing dishes. And really, a Russian restaurant without a Stroganoff is like a wine bar without wine. It should be said, though, that me and some friends have been able to order old favorites off the menu, but perhaps that was just a one-time exception.
Despite the fact that both the interior and the menu has taken a turn for the worse, I would still recommend Slāvu to anyone craving some good Russian food. They really do have skilled people in the kitchen. For a white tablecloth restaurant, the prices aren't that steep either. Main dishes are around €10-25, which has to be considered affordable for this type of restaurant. However, a word of warning for all you vegetarians out there: Slāvu is not really for you. You will be able to find at least something to eat, but your choices will be very limited and not very exciting.