Saint Petersburg



DINING

Squaring the Circle

 
 

Only a few years ago taking a foreign visitor to a restaurant serving genuine Russian (Soviet) cuisine in St. Petersburg was fraught with difficulties: there were very few of them and even less decent ones. What is the situation today?

There is definitely a feeling that St. Petersburg’s restaurateurs have attempted to address the problem. However, that leads to another question: which trend, which gastronomic style should they offer their foreign visitors?

“Tsentralny”

 

Those nostalgic for the best traditions of Soviet eating-houses are advised to try the “Tsentralny” (“Central”) restaurant, which opened a year ago opposite Smolny (Letter A, 62 Suvorovsky Pr. T: 577 1548). It was the brainchild of Leonid Garbar . The menu includes almost all the Intourist classics from the 1970s and 1980s: “Leningrad” rassolnik with veal kidneys, Chicken Kiev, Polish-style pike-perch, minced beef with egg, etc. Those who visited the restaurant shortly after it opened will find it interesting to compare the interpretation of classic recipes by the former chef Nikolay Maximenko with that of his successor Dmitry Ivanov.

Excеrpt from thе “Tsеntralny” mеnu:

Jellied chicken — 380 roublеs

Crabs in aspic with horseradish — 570 roublеs

“Mimosa” salad with hot-smoked salmon — 420 roublеs

“Rostov” ukha with rasstegai —490 roublеs

Fried pike rissoles — 490 roublеs

“Dachniki”

 

A correct attitude to the cuisine of that period is also observed at “Dachniki” (20 Nevsky Pr. T: (921) 905 4445). It classes itself as a Soviet cafe, but is actually a fully-fledged restaurant, though with cafe prices and fairly simple presentation of dishes. The accent in the menu is on Soviet cuisine. Chef Roman Vasiliev makes borsch just as it should be, as well as various pelmeni and vareniki, skoblyanka (Cossack roast pork) with tomatoes and potatoes, “navy” spaghetti with minced beef and Pozharsky rissoles.

Excеrpt from thе “Dachniki” mеnu:

“Troika” salad — 320 roublеs

Veal shashlik — 490 roublеs

Pelmeni with wild mushrooms and bacon — 310 roublеs

Homemade borsch with beef — 290 roublеs

“Napoleon” cake — 220 roublеs

“Mari Vanna”

 

Soviet cuisine is also extensively represented in the menu at “Mari Vanna”, which has moved and is now close to Peter and Paul Fortress (3 Mytninskaya Nab. T: 640 1616). Chef Roman Vasiliev, namesake of his counterpart at “Dachniki”, places the accent on more refined dishes: pancakes with crab and cream, quail in a honey crust with pears, “Orly” pike-perch with mustard puree, roast carp in sour cream with buckwheat kasha...

Excеrpt from thе “Mari Vanna” mеnu:

Cod liver Murmansk-style with onion and a quail’s egg — 420 roublеs

Light Guriev pancakes in yoghurt — 200 roublеs

Veal kidneys with brine in sour cream — 475 roublеs

Fish kulebyaka with smoked sour cream and salmon caviar — 1,300 roublеs

Quail in a honey crust with pears — 880 roublеs

“Tsar”

 

Roman Vasiliev (the one from “MariVanna”) is also the head chef at “Tsar” (12 Sadovaya Ul. T: 640 1616), but at that restaurant the menu is completely different: it is a glossy version of Russian cuisine. It is “richly expensive” and much in demand with foreign tourists (particularly the art programme which starts at 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays). “Olivier” salad with crawfish tails, crab salad with grilled vegetable marrow, baked chicken, pike rissoles with pureed celery, crab’s tentacles, imperial blini (with black caviar)...

Excеrpt from thе “Tsar” mеnu:

Burbot liver salad with sweet onion — 390 roublеs

Baked chicken — 1,350 roublеs

Fillet of rainbow trout with boiled new potatoes and cream sauce — 1,450 roublеs

Venison with foxberry sauce and baked new potatoes — 1,690 roublеs

Imperial blini — 4,500 roublеs

“Russian Vodka Room No.1”

 

Several periods in history are featured in the menu at “Russian Vodka Room No.1” (4 Konnogvardeysky Bulvar. T: 570 6420), which is combined with the Museum of Russian Vodka. Chef Andrey Vlasov prepares dishes dating from the reign of Nicholas I, from the period before Peter I and from the USSR: Pozharsky rissoles, Little Russian borsch, Chicken Kiev, meat solyanka, etc.

Excеrpt from thе “Russian Vodka Room No.1” mеnu:

Herring “in a fur coat” — 290 roublеs

Pozharsky rissole with mushroom sauce — 490 roublеs

Little Russian borsch — 430 roublеs

Strips of Siberian whitefish — 960 roublеs

Russian salad with Kamchatka crab — 780 roublеs

“Restoran”

 

Igor Mamin, the head chef at “Restoran” (2 Tamozhenny Per. T: 327 8977), takes a similar approach, though for many years the cuisine at this restaurant has been considered to be almost exemplary. Jellied veal, handmade pelmeni, “hangover” shchi in a pot, “Napoleon” cake (to the recipe of the enigmatic Valentina Petrovna)...

Excеrpt from thе “Rеstoran” mеnu:

“Siberian” pelmeni — 600 roublеs

Fisherman’s ukha with pike-perch and salmon — 600 roublеs

Halibut in breadcrumbs — 1,200 roublеs

Rabbit baked in cream with white mushrooms and homemade noodles — 1,000 roublеs

“Napoleon” — 400 roublеs

“Podvorye”

 

18th and 19th century Russian cuisine is the main trend at the “Podvorye” restaurant (16 Filtrovskoye Shosse, Pavlovsk. T: 454 5464). Chef Roman Delyagin’s menu includes Guriev kasha, various game dishes, beef Stroganoff, pelmeni with fatted fowl and wild mushrooms... You can also order the special set menu (4,500 roubles per person) which was introduced in 2000 to mark the birthday of the President of Russia.

Excеrpt from thе “Podvoryе” mеnu:

Draniki with crackling — 480 roublеs

Sterlet ukha with crawfish tails and burbot liver — 1,300 roublеs

Elk-meat rissole — 1,200 roublеs

Crucians fried in sour cream — 490 roublеs

Roast venison smoked on alder wood — 990 roublеs

“Shalyapin”

 

The “Shalyapin” restaurant (12/15 Tverskaya Ul. T: 926 1908) specializes in traditional homemade dishes in a modern interpretation. Head chef Alexander Chizhov offers a range of fascinating dishes: rabbit rissoles filled with vegetables and mushroom sauce, medallions of marbled beef with pureed potatoes and mushroom julienne, “Shalyapin” baked pike-perch with egg and mushrooms, golubtsi with Kamchatka crab and crawfish tails... A special theme is home-baked items: the patties and rasstegais are especially popular.

Excеrpt from thе “Shalyapin” mеnu:

Salmon rasstegai — 240 roublеs

Trout “in a fur coat” — 640 roublеs

Ukha of sterlet, pike-perch and trout — 920 roublеs

“Shalyapin” baked pike-perch with egg and mushrooms — 920 roublеs

Pelmeni with pike — 590 roublеs

Caviar Bar & Restaurant

 

The focus at the Caviar Bar & Restaurant in the Belmond Grand Hotel Europe (1/7 Mikhailovskaya Ul. T: 329 6622) is on dishes with red and black caviar. The Canadian chef Ian Minnis prepares classics of the genre, including the hotel’s speciality — three eggs filled with egg kasha, truffle oil and sturgeon, stellate surgeon and salmon caviar. Other dishes include baked ox tongue, Baltic herring with boiled potatoes and beetroot parfait, julienne with smoked sturgeon and fillet of guinea-fowl à la Maréchal.

Excеrpt from thе Caviar Bar mеnu:

Quail and duck liver pate on a slice of nut brioche with satsivi sauce of cedar nuts and grape mousse — 1,750 roublеs

Baked ox tongue with warm horseradish sauce and a composition of pickled vegetables — 1,200 roublеs

“Muscovy” duck pate with rhubarb preserve, aromatic jelly and aerated foam — 850 roublеs

Julienne with smoked sturgeon, sour cream sauce, dill and new potatoes — 1,300 roublеs

“Palkin’”

 

Aristocratic Russian cuisine from the late 19th and early 20th centuries (i.e. when the influence of French haute cuisine was at its strongest) is the speciality of the “Palkin’” restaurant (47 Nevsky Pr. T: 703 5371). The recipes of the dishes offered by head chef Pavel Melnikov feature truffles, Sauternes, champagne and asparagus. The menu is extensive and absorbing, but if you find it difficult to make a choice you can always settle for the “Classic Palkin” tasting set, which includes the restaurant’s eight most popular dishes (it costs 8,100 roubles).

Excеrpt from thе “Palkin’” mеnu:

Hare rissoles filled with truffles and foie gras (served on mushroom soufflе with Sauternes sauce — 1,260 roublеs

Sterlet baked in white wine (with white mushrooms, capers and gherkins in crawfish sauce) — 3,640 roublеs

Fried foie gras (served with quail tabak and candied apple and orange peel) — 2,240 roublеs

Medallions of venison with cream of white mushrooms (served with spicy kasha with root vegetables and sea buckthorn sauce) — 1,740 roublеs

Chantilly mint mousse with raspberry sponge (served with lavender and blueberry ice-cream) — 390 roublеs

Astoria Cafe

 

Another interesting Russian-French combination is the menu at the Astoria Cafe in the hotel of the same name (39 Bolshaya Morskaya Ul. T: 494 5815). Russian cuisine as prepared by the superbly assimilated French maestro David Ayrault and the hotel’s head chef, Parisian Serge Fery, is a more powerful phenomenon than Goethe’s “Faust”. It is always highly elegant and at times unexpected — and exceptionally delicious.

Excеrpt from thе Astoria Cafе mеnu:

“Astoria” salad — 450 roublеs

Roast chicken tabak — 1,300 roublеs

Beef Stroganoff — 1,200 roublеs

Pelmeni with crab meat — 950 roublеs

“Anna Pavlova” dessert — 550 roublеs

“Severyanin”

 

The menu at “Severyanin” (18 Stolyarny Per. T: 951 6396) is, on one hand, a throwback to the Silver Age in Russian culture and, on the other hand, an attempt to combine Russian culinary traditions with the currently popular Nordic cuisine. Chef Roman Skorikov from Riga manages this task admirably.

Excеrpt from thе “Sеvеryanin” mеnu:

Leg of venison with German wheat, pearl barley and linseed kasha — 690 roublеs

Guriev kasha with cloudberries — 360 roublеs

Bird cherry noodles with orange-cap boletus mushrooms — 460 roublеs

Baltic plaice in wine sauce with egg kasha — 630 roublеs

Kulebyaka with white salmon — 720 roublеs

“Dom”

 

Russian cuisine through the prism of modern Spanish and French techniques is the theme of the current menu at “Dom” (72 Nab. Reki Moiki. T: 930 7272). Chef Valery Gorinov trained in top restaurants in France and Spain (including with the great Quique Dacosta) and quite logically has used the experience he gained there in St. Petersburg, with excellent results.

Excеrpt from thе “Dom” mеnu:

“Olivier” salad with chicken fillet, prawns, crawfish tails and homemade mayonnaise — 850 roublеs

Scallops from the Far East of Russia with cauliflower mousse and spicy apple — 950 roublеs

Tartare of wild venison with raspberry sphere and cloudberry preserve — 790 roublеs

White salmon pate with smoked tomato sauce, served with homemade bread — 650 roublеs

Goose giblets in sherry on a bed of baby carrots and coriander leaves — 550 roublеs

“CoCoCo”

 

And if you fancy trying avant-garde Russian cuisine, you could do no better than to visit the “CoCoCo” restaurant (6 Voznesensky Pr. T: 418 2060), where chef Igor Grishechkin works wonders with locally produced fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, cereals, herbs and mushrooms. And in his gastronomic dinners (twelve courses for 5,000 roubles from 7 pm) he frequently introduces his customers to truly unique seasonal produce.

Excеrpt from thе “CoCoCo” mеnu:

Baked Jerusalem artichoke with dried beef heart and baby spinach — 390 roublеs

Crispy waffles with a taste of Borodinsky bread filled with sprat mousse — 550 roublеs

White fish donuts with remoulade sauce — 390 roublеs

“Tourist’s breakfast”. Pearlotto with chopped fresh herbs and smoked beef tartar — 950 roublеs

“Cameo” creme brulee — 350 roublеs

“Saint Petersburg”

 

Avant-garde is avant-garde, but eternal classics ought not to be forgotten. It is now 26 years since the “Saint Petersburg” restaurant opened in the very centre of the city next to the Saviour-on-the-Blood Church (5 Nab. Kanala Griboyedova. T: 314 4947). The menu includes rich soups, appetizing pies and traditional Russian meat and fish dishes. An added extra is that every evening (except Sunday) the restaurant stages an extraordinarily beautiful costumed variety show in the Russian style. And every evening there is an orchestral accompaniment.

Excеrpt from thе “Saint Pеtеrsburg” mеnu:

Hot Pancakes with Black Caviar — 2950 roublеs

Traditional Russian Soup “Ukha” with Salmon Patty — 500 roublеs

“Shchi Petrovskiye”, Russian white cabbage soup — 450 roublеs

Beef Stroganoff — 1300 roublеs

“Chicken Kiev” — 1100 roublеs

Magazine
Where St.Petersburg

September 2017



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