Caviar and vodka are probably two things that come to mind when you think of Russian food and drink but there are a lot of homely dishes that join these luxury ingredients in the country’s cuisine. You can experience the full spectrum, from simple to flashy, at these London restaurants.
Restaurant, Russian, $$$
With piles of books, nesting dolls, ornate chandeliers and tapestries covering the interior, stepping into Mari Vanna feels like stepping back in time into a traditional Russian home. The menu is fittingly classical with the likes borsch, Russian salad, stuffed cabbage leaves and honey cake all appearing on the menu. The set lunch offering of three courses for £30 is great value for a Knightsbridge restaurant but if you feel like splashing the cash, look to the Beluga vodka bottles and caviar section.
Though its known for the ‘Press for Champagne’ buttons more than anything, there are plenty of Russian treats to be found at Bob Bob Ricard. From vodka shots chilled to -18 degrees and baked oysters Brezhnev to steak tartare with caviar and sole with lobster champagne sauce, it’s luxury all the way. With its extravagant décor and Instagram opportunities aplenty, a trip to Bob Bob Ricard is a gloriously fun way to add a little glamour to your meal.
Although this characterful Southwark restaurant and bar, housed in a 18th-century coachbuilder’s works, has Baltic in its name it actually serves a broad sweep of Eastern and Central European food. Russia is represented by dishes like Siberian pelmeni, blinis and caviar and a whole host of vodkas – their bar has over 60 varieties, including flavoured ones made in-house. Drop by on a Sunday evening to enjoy live jazz with your ice-cold vodka.
Created by famed chef Alexi Zimin, this Soho restaurant and bar right next door to Ronnie Scott’s, takes Russian food and turns it into sharing plates. The ingredients, such as herring, pickled vegetables, buckwheat and dumplings, are familiar yet they are given a modern spin in Alexi’s kitchen. Zima has a cool speakeasy vibe about it, which is only enhanced by inventive house-infused vodkas and cocktails with names like Sex in Siberia, Negronovitch and From Russia With Love.
Established in 1965, Borshtch N Tears is one of the oldest Russian restaurants in the country and though it’s had some refurbishment in its time, it’s not lost any of its character. The food is comfortingly traditional so you can dine on borscht (naturally) pelmeni, vareniki, blinis and stuffed cabbage, and with live music and karaoke, it’s a place you’ll want to stay well after your plates have been cleared away.
After opening a small restaurant in Russia in 2002, Stolle has since expanded with sites in New York, Munich and London. Here the Camden bakery does a roaring trade in both sweet and savoury pies, whilst the restaurant serves soup, blinis, potato pancakes, dumplings and stroganoff (in addition to the full range of world-renowned pies), which you can wash down with Georgian wine.
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Originally opened in Lancaster Gate, Erebuni upped sticks in 2013 moving to larger premises in Barbican, complete with a separate lounge area for dancing and karaoke. The restaurant serves a blend of Armenian and Russian dishes, so you’ll see stuffed vine leaves and shish kebabs sitting alongside blinis and pan-fried sturgeon with egg and caviar. It’s the perfect place if you want to pick and mix from the flavours of the Middle East and Eastern Europe.