Time to make the piroshki! Chef Nargila Khalidova prepares a traditional Russian pastry app at the new Russian/Turkish restaurant on Preston Avenue.
Dining upstairs, dancing downstairs. M & M Restaurant takes over the former Outback Lodge space on Preston Avenue.
Attempts to revive the former Outback Lodge location on Preston Avenue seem to have been going on ever since the former roadhouse/restaurant closed in 2009. For a brief time, it was a place called Deuces Lounge, a restaurant and music joint that the owner predicted would be "the gem of Charlottesville." Now some new dreamers have taken over the space and turned it into a Russian/Turkish restaurant and late-night club called M&M Lounge and Restaurant.
"We know that we will make the best Eastern European food in Charlottesville," declare owners and brothers, Mansur and Muzaffar Suleymanov.
Well, of course, that's optimistic thinking, something anybody who plans to open a restaurant in this town should have in abundance, otherwise the daunting task of trying to make a name for yourself here, where there's a good restaurant around every corner, would seem insurmountable. But the Suleymanovs have surmounted obstacles far more daunting than opening a restaurant. Seven years ago, the Russian emigrants moved their entire family (mother, father, uncle, etc., who will also help run the restaurant) here with the help of the International Rescue Committee in Charlottesville, leaving behind a retail business they operated in Russia for a fresh start in America.
Recently, Dish had a chance to taste some dishes from M&M Restaurant and Lounge, and they were mighty tasty. Especially their signature appetizer piroshki, an oval-shaped Russian pastry filled with beef, cheese, and spinach. Of course, we also tried their Turkish chicken kebabs, marinated for a full day and grilled with onions, peppers, and vinegar. So tender!
Other items include Russian borscht soup, Georgian-style dumplings, and Balkan baklava. They also have Russian krabovyi salad, a traditional dish made with crab meat, corn, and rice. And they will bake their own Turkish bread, a soft, thin leavened bread that you can roll things up in.
As an added bonus, it also appears we'll be getting a Euro-style night club. The Suleymanovs plan to launch a late night scene in the big space, complete with a 2,500 square-foot dance floor with club lighting, plus a separate billiard room with sofas and ottomans for relaxing, which has an additional 1,500 square-foot dance floor. One of the night club rooms could be open as early as this Thursday, but they're still waiting on licenses for the other space in the building.
"In Europe, the nightlife is very exciting," says Mansur, "and we want to bring that European-style night life to Charlottesville."
The Suleymanovs also promise to have metal detectors and tight security in the parking lot.
"There will be no problems like the Outback used to have," declares Muzaffar.
Said in a thick Russian accent, reminiscent (to an American ear of a villain in a James Bond film), we're inclined to believe him.