4 Restaurants to try in St Petersburg, Russia

September 17, 2015

All the lavish sights of Saint Petersburg does give one an appetite so its just as well that the city's gastronomical offerings are diverse. Vegetarian, traditional Russian, contemporary Eastern-Western fusion - I've tasted all those for your consideration (and for my own selfish reasons too, ahem)
4 more Restaurants to try in St Petersburg, Russia


1. Мансарда (Mansarda) by Ginza Project 
Elegantly crafted East-West fusion cuisine in chic, upscale settings with an unbeatable view of Isaakiyevskiy Cathedral and the historic city centre. The steak tartare risotto was absolutely the best version of my favourite dish (I'm a raw meat aficionado) and the scallops with puree was a delicious, cannot-miss starter. The coconut dessert, while stunning in its presentation, was almost too clever for its own good - the pudding bowl was decorated with pebbles, which I mistook for candy then nearly chipped a tooth on (hint, stick to the edibles IN the coconut). You don't need a window seat to appreciate the view of Isaakiyevskiy Cathedral - it's so close and 'in your face' that sitting in the middle of the restaurant allows a better view, and you get to look into the kitchen too! Pop in for a nightcap - they're open till 1am. Don't forget to take home a souvenir from the photobooth for 200 RUB (£2)


St Petersburg shenanigans - all restaurants should have photobooths, it helps while waiting for the food!




His and hers Burberry macs, and a sneak look into the kitchen.



Incomparable, of course, to the view of Isaakiyevskiy Cathedral. 


A steak tartare and creamy pasta lover's dream - who knew both dishes would make such a winning combination?



The coconut dessert, and around it, the pebbles that nearly sent me to the dentist.


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2. Victoria Restaurant at Taleon Imperial Hotel
A highly-rated restaurant in a gorgeous 5* hotel just off Nevsky Prospect (the city centre's shopping street) with a summer terrace. Sadly, I wasn't too vowed by the view nor the food. The hotel itself is stunning, with paintings of historical scenes, sweeping stairwells and larger-than-life statues straight out of a Disney palace or museum, plus the lift amusingly and helpfully points out what day of the week it is. The cuisine is decent - I had the mushroom dumplings, potatoes (a Russian staple), and steak tartare - but as with the view of the city, the food paled in comparison with the grandeur of our surroundings. Instead, try the hotel's other restaurant - Taleon - I've heard great things about it, it's been three times voted most luxurious restaurant in St Petersburg.



The interiors of Taleon Imperial Hotel could very well be a Tsar's palace.


It was Tuesday, just in case I wasn't sure.


Taking the lift up to the summer terrace.


The panorama of the city itself  is alright, but after the view I enjoyed at Masarda not many could come close (both in terms of distance of the city's iconic buildings as well as expectation).


Fried cheese balls, mushroom dumplings, steak tartare, and fried potatoes - all Russian classics which I'd usually enjoy very much. Maybe I'd overdosed on Russian food (I dined at Victoria Restaurant on the last day of my trip)  but I wasn't terribly impressed - the dishes weren't particularly inventive and it didn't live up to my expectation especially after the restaurant came so highly recommended by locals. 


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3. Podvorye (Coach House)
If it's good enough for President Putin's 50th birthday dinner, it's good enough for me. This rustic gem, kitschy as it may seem and being in such close proximity to a tourist destination (Catherine Palace in the town of Pushkin) is happily not at all a tourist trap. The food is authentic -in fact Podvorye proudly proclaims its reputation as "Russia's most authentic Russian restaurant" - and enjoys the patronage of politicians, celebrities, locals, and travellers alike. Vodka with every meal, an extensive menu boasting traditional Russian fare (caviar pancakes, fresh fish, poultry, game to name a few), dining while being serenaded by a folk band, and farm animals in the lush gardens - this is Russian country living and dining at its purest!





It doesn't get more rustic than this - wooden building topped with a stain-glass cockerel, a huge coop full of chickens and cockerels, pretty gardens, and a view of the Russian countryside.


Marsha (I think that's what her name was) - the very tame and mild-mannered pet goat who loves having her ears tickled.





Vodka at lunch (and breakfast, and dinner)...now that's a Russian Standard.

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4. Idiot Café
Vegetarians, fear not - even in Russia, where meat is a huge part of the menu there is a place you can eat and not feel like an idiot (even if the restaurant itself is named after the Dostoyevsky novel). Rather, the ambience is very welcoming and cozy - much like dining in a dear friend's home. Charming interiors depicting a typical middle-class home of Dostoyevsky's time full of nooks with vignettes, this basement restaurant feels warm and personal, with the service to match. Salad-dodgers need not feel left out - more than just traditional Russian vegetarian food, there is also enough meat and fish dishes to keep even the committed carnivore happy. Get stuck in one of their comfortable settees to the restaurant's pleasant playlist (classics, jazz, retro) and while away an afternoon with backgammon, chess, and cards. The homemade bread and butter is to die for.


The restaurant is by a canal, and while the door down to Idiot Café is discreet, is also clearly marked on the outside with helpful English signage.



Bric-a-brac that could very well have come from someone's home (and I'm sure it did) give the basement restaurant a cozy, warm, and personal feel.


Our waitress offered me a vodka shot. When I declined because of my cold she chirped "But a shot of vodka is the best defence against a cold!" She was right.


A very happy vegetarian who is far from an idiot for dining at this lovely cafe!


Homemade bread and absolutely heavenly homemade butter!




While Henry enjoyed his vegetarian dishes, I went for a meaty Russian classic - beef stroganoff.

I hope you enjoyed my St Petersburg picks -  with vegetarian fare, traditional and rustic Russian food, and modern fusion I'd like to think there's a restaurant in here for everyone. What do you think of my picks? Have you dined in St Petersburg, and in any of these restaurants? Which restaurants do you like the look and sound of best? x

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