Ruskie business

Owner Elena Joseph makes a coffee drink at the Aroma Club.

Owner Elena Joseph makes a coffee drink at the Aroma Club.

Photo By Allison Young

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The idea to combine a high-end fragrance shop with a café seemed a bit unusual to me. When visited the Aroma Club, which has a large space in the Reno Town Mall, and met one of the owners, one half of the two-sister team from Russia, I realized that a lot of things here are unusual, which is what makes this place so special.

Aroma Club is set up in two parts, with the fragrances in the front, and the café in the back. The café also has a patio space with a great water fountain surrounded with lots of plants. The space is comfortable and cozy. On the night I visited, a group was holding a meeting in the fragrance area so I didn’t get to check it out. Instead, my friends Brett and Tim and I headed to the back and grabbed a table in the corner while we looked over a menu.

The menu offers items such as wraps, salads, soups and some Russian items such as borscht, a beet soup, and pelmeni, a dumpling soup. There were also some specials including a yogurt soup ($4.99) and Russian potato salad ($7.95 per pound). I had never even heard of either of these, so I figured I’d better give them both a try. The owner assured us that once you went Russian potato salad, you could never go back. She was not kidding. The only thing Russian potato salad has in common with the more common German potato salad is potatoes and eggs. With Russian potato salad, the ingredients are chopped so finely that every bite is a different flavor combination of the ingredients, which include apples, carrots, cucumbers, sweet peas, pickled cucumbers and fresh herbs. We basically licked the bowl clean. The yogurt soup, which is served cold, actually had many similar ingredients to the potato salad. I usually hate cold soups, but this one was refreshing and flavorful, and I’m glad I tried it despite it sounding weird.

Tim went with the pelmeni ($6.99). With pelmeni, you have a choice of the type of meat in the dumplings, so he went Siberian, which is pork and beef. The pelmeni were flavorful and quite hearty without being overly heavy. They came sprinkled with fresh dill and cilantro. Brett ordered the Incanto wrap ($6.50 for a whole, $4.25 for half), which came with turkey, artichokes, tomatoes, lettuce and spinach wrapped in a whole-wheat tortilla. I went with the Forest Tale ($6.50 for a whole, $4.25 for half), which had marinated portabella mushrooms, Gorgonzola, dried cranberries, tomatoes, balsamic glaze and lettuce. We both ordered half wraps, but they came served as two smaller wraps that in addition to the soup and potato salad was more than enough. Everything in the wraps tasted incredibly fresh.

While we ate, the owner came out to chat with us. This woman knows her food. In addition to being a Russian transplant, she has traveled the world extensively, partaking of the foods and cooking methods of each place she visited. She and her sister make all the items from scratch, and there is a huge focus on balance of flavors. Herbs and fresh ingredients, not a bunch of cheeses or sauces, are used to provide flavor. The food takes a bit of time here, as this isn’t a production line of pre-made crap. So if you’re in a hurry, call ahead, but otherwise, sit back, have a coffee and enjoy your surroundings. The food at Aroma Club is definitely worth the wait.