- Brittany Roberts
Not only frequented by tourists, but also by locals from nearby Irkutsk, Proshly Vek is a busy little restaurant serving traditional Russian food such as shashlik (meat kebab), borscht, and, of course, the Lake Baikal speciality omul. It is tantalisingly close to the water, which makes it a very convenient stopping point and a good option should you want to admire the stunning landscape with food in front of you and a drink in your hand. The walls are covered with various antiques; records, antlers, and artefacts relating to the Listvyanka’s maritime history and numerous beams sweep across the ceiling. There’s also a pool table in the corner that visitors are welcome to use. This restaurant is not sophisticated, nor does it pretend to be, but it is quaint.
Proshly Vek, 1 Ulitsa Lazo, Listvyanka, Irkutsk Oblast, Russia, +7 395 249-69-84
Boasting a formal restaurant, a grill and a separate bar where meals are served, Mayak, in Listvyanka, caters for every need. For those who wish to eat in a grander setting, where the windows are draped with velvet curtains and sparkling chandeliers hang from the ceiling, the first-floor restaurant serves a mixture of traditional Russian specialities and dishes more familiar to the Western European tourist. The hotel’s grill, on the sixth floor, serves tasty food and cocktails as well, but the highlight of this place is its balcony, from which visitors can enjoy truly panoramic views of Lake Baikal. And finally, the ‘Barbecue-Bar’ is a more informal option. That said, the interior is smart and furnished with antique wooden furniture, and the culinary offerings are still cooked to a very high standard.
Hotel Mayak, Ulitsa Gorkogo 85А, Listvyanka, Irkutsk Oblast, Russia, +7 395 249-69-11
Design Bar is one of the top-rated restaurants in the city of Irkutsk. The menu is innovative and showcases just what can be achieved with unexpected combinations of ingredients. Although perhaps not to everyone’s liking, it’s definitely worth trying the home made ice cream if you get the chance, the basil and bacon flavors really do play tricks on your taste buds. There is a wealth of interesting cocktails to be sampled too, and, like the food, they are beautiful to look at as well as to consume, and are not overpriced. The level of service is impeccable, the waiters are friendly, attentive and many of them speak English and the decor is artistic and colorful.
Listvyanka Club Grill & Restaurant
Perched right on the shore of the vast Lake Baikal, in the town of Listvyanka, this restaurant is the perfect place to enjoy an evening meal after a day’s exploring. Naturally, the views here are unbeatable, but the appeal doesn’t stop there. Thoughtfully decorated with timber panels and pastel colored furniture, and finished off with boutique style ornaments, the interior is smart yet cosy, and a huge, brick fireplace dominates the far corner, ensuring that even on the coldest winter day there is no chance of feeling chilly. Fish is not the only thing on the menu, which is mostly composed of Siberian style dishes. Trying omul, for which the area is famed, is to be recommended.
Extremely popular with both Russians and visitors alike, Rassolnik is a restaurant which has truly mastered Soviet chic. The walls are plastered with memorabilia, black and white photographs, film cameras, cassette tapes, and old musical instruments, for example but by no means does the space feel cluttered. On the contrary, everything has been very carefully placed to ensure that the look of the restaurant is artistic and retro, but that the vibe is relaxed and welcoming. Rassolnik serves an impressive range of traditional Russian dishes, all prepared to a very high standard and beautifully presented. But, of course, as the name of the restaurant suggests, the speciality here is rassolnik, a soup made with vegetables, pearl barley and beef, served in a bowl made of bread.
Rassolnik, Ulitsa 3 Iyulya, Irkutsk, Irkutsk Oblast, Russia, +7 395 268-68-78
The menu at Prego is jam-packed full of classic Italian-style fare. There are old favourites like spaghetti carbonara and pizza quattro formaggi, plentiful risotto recipes, countless meat and fish dishes, soups, salads, and of course, a whole array of desserts which won’t fail to please. There is also a very reasonably priced business lunch on offer, and an extensive children’s menu should younger guests require it. But aside from producing abundant gastronomic delights, the Prego team’s main aim is for everyone who walks through the door to feel at home. They really do care about creating a relaxed environment and are determined that both those looking to enjoy a simple cup of coffee and those with their heart set on a rather more substantial three course meal can dine peacefully and comfortably.
Prego, Ulitsa Karla Marksa, 15A, Irkutsk, Irkutsk Oblast, Russia, +7 395 297-97-57
The kitchen at Figaro is run by the superb chef Francesco Torelli who draws on his experiences of working in the UK, Italy, China, France, Spain and Brazil to create Italian-style dishes with a twist. Despite his remarkable résumé, his work is not ostentatious, although the presentation of each and every plate of food is delicate and elegant. He seeks to give visitors a pleasurable fine dining experience full of personal touches, and has been known to modify recipes on the spot so as to accommodate particular dietary requirements or preferences. Figaro welcomes guests from all over the world and boasts an expert team of staff who are able to communicate in a number of languages, there is an English menu available, which makes things a lot easier for those who are not familiar with Russian. It’s a restaurant where delicious food, good wine, and excellent service are all guaranteed.
Figaro, Ulitsa Karla Marksa 22, Irkutsk, Irkutsk Oblast, Russia, +7 395 229-06-07
Cosy boutique restaurant
The atmosphere at cosy Snezhinka is great. The staff are friendly and will attempt to speak English, should that be necessary – there are also English menus available. The feel of the restaurant is stylish but quaint: boutique style dressers, pretty chandeliers and glass tables fill the room, and having pot plants nestled in most corners is a pleasant homely touch. The range of dishes on offer is perhaps a little limited, but what is lacking in variety is certainly made up for in quality. The homemade bread in particular is sensational.
Watch out for: the homemade bread
Snezhinka, Ulitsa Litvinova 2, Irkutsk, Irkutsk Oblasst, Russia, +7 395 224-32-05
Offering predominantly Mongolian and Buryatian cuisine, Kochevnik (nomad in Russian) is a stylish little restaurant in the centre of Irkutsk. Striking suits of armor and paintings depicting epic battle scenes render the interior memorable, but modern touches ensure that it feels classy rather than stuffy. Given its prime location, it’s very easy to find, and makes for a great place to have lunch when enjoying a day of sightseeing in the city. Visitors can expect expect enormous portions of tasty food and reasonable prices. The buzy (Buryatian dumplings filled with meat) are definitely to be recommended, as are any of the traditional soups which often comprise of vast amounts of noodles.
Kochevnik, Ulitsa Gorkogo 19, Irkutsk, Irkutsk Oblast, Russia, +7 395 220-04-59
Situated in Gagarin Boulevard, right on the embankment of the river Angara, Monet Restaurant delivers delicious, fresh food and great service. The desserts in particular are heavenly, and the vast selection of drinks on offer, especially the teas, is impressive. As is also true of the food, the restaurant itself has been very tastefully decorated indeed, every detail has clearly been thought about carefully. Another plus is that there is a special corner set up where children can play peacefully or else watch cartoons should the table talk not keep them sufficiently entertained.
Monet Restaurant, Gagarina Boulevard 42, Irkutsk, Irkutsk Oblast, Russia, +7 395 220-17-72