Kalinka's chicken stroganoff is an exceptionally light take on the classic. For a gratifying lunch (or, for that matter, dinner), try it with some steamed buckwheat groats (kasha) and one of the salads, perhaps the tart pink toss of diced beets, pickles, cabbage, potatoes, and lentils. Other appealing (and heartwarming) dishes include stuffed cabbage and stuffed green pepper, both filled with the same savory beef-and-rice filling; a sweet/sour vegetable medley of eggplant, carrots, onions, and red peppers; a borscht that was skimpy on beef but bulky with beets, cabbage, carrots, onions, and dill; a small, moist pork steak in brown sauce; and knockout chicken or fish croquettes, each the size of a really fat burger. Splendid, too, were the blintzes, neatly pan-fried crêpes slenderly packaged around either minced beef or sweet cottage cheese. Pass the sour cream!
Cheese blintzes are ideal for dessert, as are pan-fried, puck-shape, sweetened cottage cheese cakes called sirniki (available with or without raisins). Convivial workers behind the counter pour a respectable cup of espresso too. Oh yeah there's also the aforementioned display case brimming with sweeter sweets, like a napoleon oozing with pastry cream; a multilayer honey-graham cake also oozing pastry cream; and the spud-size kartoshka ("potato"), a chocolate-sprinkled, nut-studded, scrumptious sphere of chocolate ganache (think of it as the largest chocolate truffle you will ever eat). As you might imagine, upon exiting Kalinka, you may have to loosen your borscht belt a bit.