September 6, 2010
Irina’s Restaurant and Bar in Urbandale is an interesting contrast of atmospheres and cuisines. While Irina’s has a beautiful formal dining room, it also has a bar that has a sort of dance club feel to it. The menu features Russianfavorites, but finds space for American dishes, Italian dishes, and a Spanish dessert. So whether it is the contrast in cuisines, the contrast in room designs, or the quirky staff, Irina’s is a little schizophrenic. But while Irina’s may appear to be all over the place, the restaurant really has it all together. The prices are mostly reasonable, the food is excellent, and the service is friendly, quick, and efficient.
Irina’s entrées run from $7 to $20 and feature Beef Stroganov, Salmon Wellington, Moscow Filet, Russian Pork Shashlik, and Rack of Lamb. I highly recommend the last four in that list. The Salmon Wellington is a flaky puff pastry filled with a salmon fillet stuffed with spinach and goat cheese. The Moscow Filet is a center cut shoulder filet, stuffed with sautéed onions and mushrooms, spinach, parmesan, and alfredo sauce. The Russian Pork Shashlik is a skewer (long enough that you could use it in a sword fight) holding chunks of juicy, marinated, grilled pork and veggies. The Rack of Lamb is succulent Australian lamb marinated in fresh herbs and served in a rich Marsala wine sauce. You cannot go wrong with any of these choices. However, if you want something a little less fancy and more familiar, they have Fettucini Alfredo, chicken wings, build-your-own burgers, a tenderloin, onion rings, and a variety of salads.
Irina’s also offers a variety of appetizers and a few desserts. The shrimp appetizer and carrot cake are both solid choices. Irina’s also has a full bar, that features a variety of beers (Russian, American, and more), wines, martinis and other specialty drinks. (Check out the accompanying slideshow for a look at some of their food and drink specialties.)
Irina’s servers are funny, friendly, and fairly good at what they do. They are also quite talkative and open on slow night; so be warned: if you ask a question, they will answer it in detail… possibly more than you want. But it is this open, quirky, honesty that makes Irina’s fun. The food is top notch and the people are themselves. The restaurant is clean, there is often oldies music playing in the background, and the prices are fairly reasonable. If you have not tried Irina’s Restaurant and Bar, it is well worth the visit.