Restaurant Name: Line Brew
Excellent steaks, great beer.
Line brew is one of the restaurants that my friends visit as often as possible. We also have a running debate over where to find the best steak in Astana and almost all agree that this is the place. Personally I thought the steak at Fusion was better, but that's a minority view.
There are a number of steaks on the menu, but I prefer the Devil Steak because it is cooked on the open fire grill at the center of the restaurant. It is a nice thick cut, still attached to a rib. The devil is marinated lightly, just enough to give it a good flavor, a little too salty for my tastes, but I'm fairly sensitive to that. The fire is natural charcoal so the smoky flavor is very good, no off flavors from artificial fuels. It isn't on my list of the five best steaks I've ever eaten, but every time I visit Line Brew I have to think about that to be sure. It's certainly in the top ten. The Devil comes with a garnish, naturally, my preference is for the roasted potatoes. They are charred from being in the fire, but the inside is super sweet and delicious.
There are a number of other entrees, but I can't say I've tried them. Friends have ordered salmon, pepper steak, and shashlik there and all of them seem very satisfied. If you eat pork, this is one of the few places in town that you can find pork shashlik. A friend ordered it on our most recent visit and he said it was extremely good, but the portion was a bit small for the price.
This is also a good restaurant for a proper green salad. I am always a fan of the Caesar. It is definitely not the best Caesar in town, but any excuse to get a large plate of lettuce is welcome around here. The Caprice salad is a better choice - a huge pile of fresh rucola with balsamic, sliced Parmesan, and cherry tomatoes. Soups are a good option as well - I am a big fan of the mushroom soup served with sour cream on the side to thicken the broth.
After all that food it is hard to have room for dessert, but the kind wait staff will let you sit and drink some tea if you need to make room. Desserts are extremely good interpretations of classics. I prefer the creme brulee and the hazelnut cake.
This is also the home of the Line Brew beer served at restaurants around town, so have a half liter (or three) if you're the beer-drinking type. There are two varieties on the menu, "Premium" is the Line Brew served at other restaurants in Astana. There is also an unfiltered wheat that my friends seem to like. I have never been a huge fan of wheat beers so I'll stick with the Premium thankyouverymuch.
Service is always pleasant and efficient at Line Brew. A number of the wait staff speak English and those that don't are very patient with our broken Russian. The menu is tri-lingual and includes some fun mis-interpretations so it's worth a read. We've never had any trouble with incorrect billing and the food usually arrives quickly and at the same time for the whole table.
I find everything about the atmosphere of this place to be odd, but comfortable. The building is a small model castle and the inside is also decorated in a European medieval theme. The entry way has a faux drawbridge, a suit of armor, and a wrought iron spiral staircase. Fake stained glass windows provide the light that doesn't come from a fire, and there are two levels of heavy dark wood tables. Strange.
There is live music nightly in the form of a quartet with a saxophone soloist who is known to roam around the dining room. Personally I get irritated by live music that is too loud when I'm trying to eat dinner, but they manage to keep it at a good volume. On my most recent visit, we were seated immediately adjacent to the band, so only the back of the booth separated us from music. Even there it was not too loud. I wouldn't have minded a volume knob to turn it down, but it wasn't awful.
Somehow, all of these odd bits work out, it is a really comfortable place to eat. It is a perfect venue for a date, group celebration, or casual dinner.