This week on Dining on a Dime, host Lucas Peterson jumps into a pool of 25 degree water and then eats borscht while wearing a bathrobe. The place: Matryoshka, a spa and bathhouse in New York’s Financial District that also serves up some of the most authentic Russian food in the city.
Russian bathhouses, or banyas, are a tradition nearly as old as Russia itself, with a first mention appearing in writing in the year 945 AD. Most are wood-paneled rooms that function like saunas, exceeding 200 degrees Fahrenheit, adjacent to colder "plunge pools"; bathers sweat it out in the sauna for two or three sessions per visit, with breaks between each to cool off and have a snack.
At Matryoshka, the food is a draw unto itself. The restaurant has a thriving delivery market in addition to their subterranean dining room, bringing cabbage rolls and strogonoff to diners across Manhattan. Watch as Peterson takes part in everything Matryoshka has to offer, from the plushy towels to the pelmeni dumplings.