Before we came to Russia, we got an intensive 8 week course in the language. This was followed by our 4 week home leave, in which we practiced nothing and forgot everything. With many fits and starts, several months after our arrival we finally started the post language program, which permits 2h/week of language instruction.
Suffice to say, we're treading water and no more.
Since the economic crisis of 2008, the restaurants are barely ever full. Reservations are rarely needed. In our time here, I have now made reservations 3 times. The first 2 times were in English, speaking with a person whose English seemed pretty good. Both times, there was no reservation when I got to the restaurant at the appointed date and time (happily, it was never a problem as mentioned previously - even the night there were 8 of us). The third time I decided to try it in Russian. I was able to convey everything the person asked!!! And, better yet, they had the reservation when we showed up! Hmmmmm.