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“Authentic Russian restaurant - home cooking just like Baba used to make” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Firebird Restaurant

Firebird Restaurant
4715 Manzanita Ave, Carmichael, CA
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Ranked #8 of 92 Restaurants in Carmichael
Price range: $30 - $30
Cuisines: Russian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Dining style: Fine Dining
Cross street: Winding Way
Transit: Route 25 Stops: - Manzanita & Madison (0.7 miles) - Madison & Dewey (1.1 miles)
California
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Authentic Russian restaurant - home cooking just like Baba used to make”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 20, 2012

Went to Firebird with my sweetie for Valentine's Day. The restaurant has some cute cozy decor, and for Valentine's Day they decorated with some festive heart shaped balloons (received 2 balloons at the end of the night, spasiba!) etc.

I really miss my Baba's pelmeni, and I wanted to try their vareniki, so my date & I ordered 1 plate of each and split them (the restaurant wouldn't do half pelmeni & half vareniki on one plate). They were very good! We also split an appetizer of zhulien which was excellent. The waiter also suggested that their golubtsi was their house specialty and we tried that too, it was very good. Sliced bread was also offered.

Because I wanted to try a variety, we didn't order dinner entrees. In fact I took some of the zhulien home. Note that their entrees are ordered European style, which means that you order vegetables separately as a side dish. Next time I want to try their blini.

In typical Russian style, a few items on their menu were not available. :-) The couple running the place were very nice. You can make reservations via OpenTable.com, which we did, but it's not clear whether OpenTable shows all the availability. If you don't see the time you like then call them.

www.firebirdrussianrestaurant.com

  • Visited February 2012
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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20 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Denver, Colorado
Top Contributor
185 reviews 185 reviews
124 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 82 cities Reviews in 82 cities
68 helpful votes 68 helpful votes
“Tantalizing food and great art”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 19, 2011

We were coming from Vegas to San Fran and stopped here because of a recommendation from a friend. I ordered smoked salmon stuffed crepes which was a rather large plate, husband got the sesame crusted trout. Our delicious sides were mashed potatoes, sauteed eggplant salad and polenta topped with yummy broiled feta. Three plates full plus dessert came to $32 not including tax, tip and drinks. I came to this restaurant to try their smoked sturgeon that was on their website menu, but they didn't have it. I wonder if it wasn't in season or the restaurant no longer serves it. Overall a good meal, art on the walls, and good atmosphere. I'd love to try spinach and cheese stuffed crepes next time!

  • Visited July 2011
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Concord, California
Top Contributor
110 reviews 110 reviews
46 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 45 cities Reviews in 45 cities
263 helpful votes 263 helpful votes
“Very disappointing, after reading reviews”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed January 4, 2011

We were looking forward to eating at this restaurant after reading reviews and enjoying so many other little ethnic restaurants in the same area. The restaurant is located in a small strip mall near family members. We really enjoy patronizing and supporting little places in that area.

One of us had been there for the buffet lunch and highly recommended it. I'd also read the website, prior to going. Menu sounded varied and extensive. It made my mouth water. I love Russian food and have eaten it many times.

We were there on a Thursday from 6pm to 8pm. The three of us family members were the only people in the restaurant the whole time. That should have told us something. The ambience is quite nice and modern, with art work on the walls and an attractively-arranged bar and crisp, modern tables with large meeting space to the right. Stained concrete floors and festive lighting for the holiday season. Very nice setting.

The restaurant advertises itself as "elegant and fine dining." Modern and clean and up-to-date -- yes. Elegant and fine dining? Not at all. Maybe the restaurant wants to be such but, unfortunately the food was terrible.

We were there during Happy Hour so had 5 drinks (generally beer and wine) spread among the 3 of us over the 2 hours. Just to set the stage for the bill down the road. I had a cocktail (which I never do but thought I'd try one during Happy Hour) which was so sugary that I couldn't drink it, so I dumped most of my glass of water into it and then ordered a glass of zin (Rosenblum) because the cocktail was undrinkable. Happy Hour prices though, so we were told.

Our server was friendly and answered some questions. He explained that he was not Russian but that all the kitchen people were so we would get authentic Russian food. Since we've been to Russian restaurants before (both in Sacramento and as far away as the Russian Tea Room in NYC), we believed him.

We all ordered the Ukrainian Borscht to start our meal. Since I make my own borscht (and have been doing it regularly since first tasting it at the Russian Tea Room 40 years ago --- using their recipe), I was looking forward to that.

The borscht was bad. For $6, we got a bowl of tomato-y broth (tasty, but not traditional borscht) with mostly potatoes. I looked for the beets and cabbage and could not find them. There were huge chunks of something in the borscht. We asked the waiter what these big orange things were? He said "potatoes." When I asked why they were bright orange, he said they were colored by the beets. Really? I saw no beets, carrots or other veggies in the soup. Just orange potatoes.

I went home that night and read my original recipe and there are no big chunks of potatoes in the traditional recipe. It appears that all the veggies in the soup (other than potatoes) were put through a chopper or blender. Beets are supposed to be a recognizable vegetable in borscht. Possibly Ukrainian borscht is different from Russian borscht but this version was not what we anticipated. Didn't seem authentic.

Our Entrees: One of us ordered the chicken kabob ($12), another the sturgeon filet ($20) and I ordered the sturgeon kabob ($17). I was looking forward to mine as I'd cooked sturgeon at home the week before and it was fantastic. I wanted more, especially from a restaurant which advertised itself as "elegant, fine dining.""

With our entrees, we each got two sides. We all ordered the grilled asparagus for one side. Two of us ordered the polenta. One ordered the rice with vegetables.

All sides were ridiculous. You couldn't find the veggies in the rice. The asparagus was only 3 spears. Tasted good, but 3 spears? The polenta was tasteless and had the consistency of crunchy sand. Inedible. I couldn't figure out how someone could mess up veggie rice and polenta so badly.

The main feature of our entrees was the white plate. We had almost no food. There were three little piles of food far away from each other, across the white plates, as if someone in the kitchen was trying to do triangular art, as opposed to providing food for people to eat.

Both of the kabob dishes were only 4 small pieces (very small and completely dry, in the case of my sturgeon) and were almost inedible. The sturgeon filet was about an inch by four inches --- also very dry. Other than the 3 asparagus spears, the main course was unappetizing and mine could not be chewed --- it was so dry. I left the 4th tiny piece. If people like to look at big white plates, with almost no food on them (at $12, $17, $20 for an entree), it might hit the spot but it didn't for us.

Our server was personable and efficient but it was simple to serve us as nobody else was there and we were easy customers, as mostly we were there just to catch up with each other. We didn't complain on site as all 3 meals were bad, so what could we do? No need to make a scene during the holidays.

We do like to eat ethnic food though --- all kinds (Afghan, Thai, VietNamese, etc.) in the area, but the food at Firebird is clearly sub-par. I liked the ambience. Our final bill was $117 for 3 of us (that's including the tip because we didn't blame the server and tipped him around 18%) and I was starving about an hour later (most of the time when I eat out, I take part of it home).

It's the most expensive bill we've ever had in eating at an ethnic restaurant in the area and the 3 of us eat out together regularly. We'll not be back. Sad, because I wanted to like Firebird. It's in a suburban area (not the city) so is priced about double what it was worth. Low value for our restaurant dollar.

  • Visited December 2010
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 1 of 5 stars Food
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