A Russian refugee and a well-traveled American are combining their talents to create a new cultural hub in Federal Way.
Little Russia Bistro and Cafe opened last month in the southern part of the city. Co-owners Tatyana Koshevaya and Barbara Lilly say they make an unusual but successful pair.
They both craft authentic gourmet Russian snacks that are equal parts beautiful and delicious. One example is buterbrody, which are deceptively rich open-faced sandwiches on toasted bread. Selections include The Baltic with smoked sprat fish, sun-dried tomatoes, sliced egg and baby pickles that meld together in savory harmony. The Moscow sandwich pairs sliced dry sausage with havarti cheese, butter and sun-dried tomatoes.
The menu includes traditional pickled cabbage and beet salads, along with buttery handmade croissants called plachenda — akin to a more decadent piroshky that's stuffed with a range of flavors such as potatoes or cabbage.
The bistro also sells Russian and Eastern European groceries, pastries, candies and beverages like kvass, a Russian soda made from rye.
(Pictured: A fresh berry blinchiki, also known as Russian crepes, served with tea and coffee.)
A highlight of the menu is the blinchiki, also known as Russian crepes, available in a range of sweet styles fit for both dessert and breakfast. The fresh berry blinchiki is served warm and topped with raspberries, blueberries, whip cream, chocolate and a spatter of powdered sugar.
Food is only one facet of Little Russia. Local artists display paintings and ceramics along the bistro's walls, and classic tea kettles adorn the tables. The goal is to make the bistro a social and cultural hub in Federal Way.
"It's like a Russian and American collaboration," said Lilly, who was born in the U.S. but has lived in several European countries. "We want to merge cultures together."
Koshevaya is a Russian refugee who moved to the U.S. nearly 22 years ago. In that time, she has worked as a social advocate and interpreter for immigrants. Little Russia is an extension of this social mission, she said, hoping to alleviate the struggles of immigrants while also serving as a catalyst for positive change.
"We want to bring people together through culture," Koshevaya said. "We want to bring together Russians and Americans."
Check it out
Little Russia is located at 34428 Pacific Highway South, Suite A, Federal Way (near Secoma Lanes). Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Programs will be announced for Friday and Saturday nights. Closed Sunday. To learn more, call (253) 988-2140 or (253) 223-1355.
Little Russia plans to incorporate live entertainment and make the bistro available for group rentals. From 7 to 10 p.m. April 12, the bistro hosted Russian dancers as well as an African band.
Be sure to look for Little Russia at the Federal Way Farmers Market, which opens Mother's Day weekend at The Commons Mall.
For a slideshow of photos from Little Russia, see below or click here.