Minsk’s breakfast scene is booming, with cafés and restaurants offering a mix of both local and international favourites. Anastasiya Scherban, a food blogger based in the Belarusian capital, shares with Culture Trip her list of the must-eat breakfast dishes in Minsk.
A psychologist by training, Anastasiya Scherban found her vocation in writing about food. Her popular blog, zavtrak.by, focusses specifically on breakfasts, from sweet cheese fritters and oatmeal porridge – the local favourites – to the less orthodox potato pancakes with oxtail stew. According to Scherban, there is no shortage of delicious ways to start your morning in Minsk.
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Michel Café is on the corner of two historical streets, within walking distance of major landmarks, such as the Church of Saints Simon and Helena and Janka Kupala National Theatre. The contemporary café offers novel interpretations of classic dishes – the rice porridge, for example, comes with mango or papaya. For the ultimate breakfast comfort food, though, it’s hard to beat syrniki (sweet-cheese fritters). They are on practically every breakfast menu in Minsk, yet the syrniki at Michel Café truly stand out for their delicate, creamy texture. “Cheese fritters at Michel are hearty and light, with the perfect ratio of flour to cottage cheese,” Scherban explains. The dish is accompanied by sour cream and berry jam.
This inconspicuous wine and coffee bar doesn’t have a flashy sign and is easy to walk past without noticing, but once inside, Svobody.4 stands out for its relaxed ambience, enhanced by gentle background music. It specialises in fusing diverse European cuisine with local touches. Its zapekanka (breakfast pudding) is somewhat similar to a cheesecake, and it “literally melts in the mouth”, according to Scherban. In summer, the dish is accompanied by fresh berries and sour cream, while in the cold months, it comes with berry coulis. Scherban can’t resist mentioning the brie and marmalade croissant, along with the green buckwheat with halloumi cheese and poached egg. “The ideal combination of ingredients makes it delicious, hearty and fresh at the same time,” she says.
Conveniently located on the revitalised Internatsionalnaya pedestrian street in Minsk’s historical centre, Stories is a cosy urban café renowned for its croissants and coffee. The light-flooded room, complete with bookshelves, paintings and soft music, creates a warm, homey atmosphere. Scherban comes here again and again for granola because no one makes it like Stories. “Crispy and moist, it is rich in nuts and dried fruit, with greek yoghurt as a base. The granola is neatly layered in a glass jar. It is a pure work of art,” she says.
Offering home cooking and generous portions, ButterBro specialises in Belarusian and old-school Russian cuisine, sometimes adding new twists to traditional recipes. The restaurant’s two dining rooms and summer terrace – featuring a full-size replica of a cow – are inspired by Provence. Scherban, a regular at ButterBro, suggests trying the pumpkin oladyi – small thin pancakes that are a staple in Belarusian cuisine. She says they’re “an unusual choice for breakfast, but the praise is well deserved. The oladyi at ButterBro are incredibly soft and fragrant. Sprinkled with pumpkin seeds, they are served with sour cream and rocket on the side.” Reservations are recommended.
Behind the slightly austere facade of a Neoclassical Stalinist building hides the ornately decorated, bright La Crête d’Or Café. Formerly a patisserie, this café has retained its outstanding dessert menu, where you’ll find petit fours and éclairs alongside undying Soviet classics such as medovik (honey layer cake) and the mousse-like bird’s milk cake. When it comes to breakfast, the omelette with porcini mushrooms is second to none, remarkable for its airy texture despite the hearty cheese-and-mushroom filling. Scherban recommends trying the omelette with truffle oil for a more complex flavour and a truly indulgent breakfast treat.
Let it be is a café, a bakery and a wine bar in one, and its speciality is bread. Breakfast is served throughout the day and includes artistically presented toasts, eggs, porridges and pastries. The tasty toast combinations include ciabatta with roast beef and aubergine caviar, buckwheat bread with duck and caramelised porcini mushrooms, and onion bread with ricotta cream and artichokes. Scherban says that “every toast has a distinct and memorable flavour. Whichever you choose, you will not be disappointed.” The simple interior with white walls, minimalist furniture and futuristic cocoon-shaped lamps hanging above create an atmosphere where the food becomes the centrepiece.
Located just steps away from the Belarusian National Arts Museum, News Café is best known for its impeccable service. The long dining room is smartly designed in black and white, with a checkered floor and dark couches against soft pastel walls, giving it a vintage feel – as do the waitresses, who wear 1930s maid uniforms. The menu features a wide range of breakfast dishes, but what won Scherban’s heart was the simple, perfectly executed oatmeal porridge served with dried apricots, raisins, prunes, honey and butter. “An ordinary dish, when presented properly, becomes a success,” she explains.
Inspired by Boris Vian’s novel Froth on the Daydream (1947), this venue is a surreal fantasy come to life, where furniture, chandeliers, mirrors and even people seem somehow unearthly. Located on a busy pedestrian street filled with countless restaurants, Pena Dney stands above them all. Here, European dishes, transformed by the imagination of the head chef, become works of art. Scherban believes that it is impossible to have a bad day if it starts with the omelette roll with truffle cream and thin slices of fresh mushrooms. The restaurant’s brunch menu is available on weekends from 11am to 4pm.
Visit Moby Dick for breakfast in the heart of Minsk. This trendy café right next to the Victory Monument and within walking distance of Gorky Park lies inside a former Soviet-era apartment. It has maintained a homely atmosphere, largely due to the herringbone parquet flooring, designer furniture and ceiling lamps. Meanwhile, the counter and corner columns feature Gaudí-esque mosaic tiles. As for breakfast, Scherban believes that the cornmeal porridge with blue cheese and pear deserves special mention. “If you are hungry, you can ask to add prosciutto – it will make the dish even more substantial. All in all, it is a perfect combination of taste and nutrition.”
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