A visit to St Petersburg would not be complete without trying the best of Russian cuisine that the city has to offer. Some of the restaurants aim to recreate a 19th-century dining experience, while others transform traditional dishes into modern creations. Whichever you might be seeking, the St Petersburg dining scene has you covered.
Restaurant, Russian, $$$
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Visiting Mari Vanna is a complete dining experience. Every element in the interior design has been thought through to the last detail to create a feeling of a Russian apartment. Servers wearing 20th-century uniforms, borscht served in a large ceramic pot and, of course, the best of Soviet pop music all set the mood for an authentic Russian experience. The menu features the best of Russia’s cuisine, and the meals are served in generous portions with a sprinkling of Russian hospitality.
Many restaurants offer authentic Russian dishes served as they would have been throughout the centuries. The concept of Cococo stands out, as the chefs here take a modern approach to Russian recipes and transform them into new creations that still pay homage to tradition. The ingredients are all locally sourced, and the menu changes depending on product availability, just as it would have in a traditional Russian household.
A visit to Russian Ampir is a trip back in time to the age of imperial luxury. The restaurant is housed in none other than a real 18th-century palace, the Stroganov Palace, which was once owned by an influential noble family. The dishes, served on porcelain plates and with 24-karat-gold flatware, are certainly not your everyday meal. Many of the recipes were said to have been recovered from the cookbook of the Winter Palace, the residence of the royal family, providing for a truly royal experience.
The history of the Palkin restaurant goes back to the end of the 18th century, when the first of the Palkin family restaurants was opened in St Petersburg. Business thrived and new restaurants were opened, but the grandest and most luxurious was located in the place now called Palkin. It was an establishment frequented by many celebrities of the 19th century and was well known around the city. Although the restaurant was closed during the Soviet era, the 1990s brought interest in restoring the historic restaurant, and it is once again welcoming visitors with the many traditional Russian dishes on its menu.
The name of the restaurant, Severyanin, alludes to two meanings. The first being ‘a man from the North’ and the second referring to the name of the Silver Age poet, Igor Severyanin. The restaurant’s menu was created by the Russian celebrity chef Aram Mnatsakanov, preserving the concept of Northern Russian cuisine but giving it a fresh look. The elegant interior of the restaurant adds the finishing touches, bearing resemblance to a 19th-century St Petersburg apartment, making it a quiet and romantic place to try creative Russian meals.
Ryumochnayas used to be widespread in Russia during the 19th century. Usually, these were establishments that served shots of vodka and various side dishes, usually pickles and cold cuts with dark bread. Although this modern ryumochnaya has a more sophisticated menu and level of service, it has kept the atmosphere from 200 years ago. Make sure to try their lengthy selection of Russian vodkas and liqueurs.
In Russian, Tsar was the title held by all rulers of unified Russia, similar to a king. The name, therefore, promises royal treatment and delivers a true atmosphere of an aristocrat’s dinner table. The extensive Russian menu features many delicacies from around the country, as well as traditional dishes stylishly served in line with the restaurant’s theme.