Im­pe­rial Din­ing in St. Peters­burg

posh pan­cakes to horse­rad­ish vodka

Business Traveler (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Marc Ben­netts

Built lit­er­ally on a swamp by its name­sake, Tsar Peter the Great, St Peters­burg was once im­pe­rial Rus­sia’s cap­i­tal. Laced with canals and chock-a-block with evoca­tive Tsarist-era ar­chi­tec­ture, it’s of­ten com­pared to Venice. De­spite los­ing its ti­tle as the cap­i­tal city, St Peters­burg still a glit­ter­ing jewel in Rus­sia’s his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural crown.

When eat­ing out in St Peters­burg, you are guar­an­teed a picturesque walk to your meal. From tra­di­tional Rus­sian cui­sine in the im­pres­sive his­tor­i­cal cen­ter to cozy canal-side eater­ies, the shades of im­pe­rial grandeur only add to the mise-en-scène. The ru­ble’s re­cent col­lapse means even the city’s most lux­u­ri­ous restau­rants are sud­denly a lot more af­ford­able. Here are five places to visit.

PALKIN

Founded in 1785, this sump­tu­ously dec­o­rated restau­rant on Nevsky Prospekt has seen some fa­mous visi­tors over the years, in­clud­ing some of the greats of Rus­sian lit­er­a­ture like Fy­o­dor Dos­toyevsky and Niko­lai Go­gol.

Fre­quented by a mix­ture of busi­ness peo­ple, wealthy lo­cals and tourists from the nearby top-end ho­tels, Palkin serves high-qual­ity ,“Im­pe­rial” Rus­sian food. Un­usual fish dishes in­clude Kare­lian trout poached in cham­pagne and lemon (1,690 rubles/$25) and black cod with beet­root risotto and scal­lops (1,640 rubles/$24).

To really splash out, try the black caviar and wheat pan­cakes (6,840 rubles/$103).

Open 12:00 PM – 11:30 PM daily. 47 Nevsky Prospekt; tel +7 812 703 5371; palkin.ru

BAKLAZHAN

Baklazhan serves good-qual­ity, good-value food from across Cen­tral Asia and the Cau­ca­sus re­gion.

Lo­cated on the first floor of a busy shop­ping cen­ter, a short walk from Nevsky Prospekt, the spe­cial­ties in this bright and friendly restau­rant in­clude aubergine-based sal­ads (baklazhan means “aubergine” in Rus­sian) and Ge­or­gian food.

Try the lo­bio (fried red beans with herbs and spices – 369 rubles/$5.50) or the ad­jar­ian khacha­puri, a steaming hot cheese pas­try with a raw egg in the mid­dle (449 rubles/$6.75). The lat­ter Ge­or­gian del­i­cacy is a lot tastier than it sounds.

Open 10:00 AM – 11:00 PM daily. 30 Ligov­sky Prospekt; tel +7 812 677 7372; en.ginza.ru/spb/restau­rant/bak­la­jan

GO­GOL

St Peters­burg is jus­ti­fi­ably proud of its lit­er­ary tra­di­tions, and the Go­gol, just off Nevsky Prospekt, recre­ates the at­mos­phere of a 19th-cen­tury writer’s apart­ment, as well as his din­ing habits. Con­sist­ing of a num­ber of taste­ful rooms, Go­gol serves some great tra­di­tional Rus­sian dishes, from freshly salted fil­let of wild Siberian white­fish served with a shot of horse­rad­ish vodka (420 rubles/$6) to chicken Kiev stuffed with foie gras, nuts and herbs (690 rubles/$10).

Go­gol is pop­u­lar with tourists seek­ing some­thing off the beaten path, as well as well-off lo­cals.

Open daily 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM (mid­night Fri-Sat). 8 Malaya Morskaya Street; tel +7 812 312 6097; eng. restau­rant-go­gol.ru

ID­IOT

Named af­ter the novel by Dos­toyevsky, the Id­iot restau­rant has re­mained pop­u­lar since open­ing in 1997.

It serves tasty, good-value tra­di­tional Rus­sian food, with plenty of meat-free op­tions, in­clud­ing ukha (fish soup – 320 rubles/$5) and pel­meni (dumplings with mush­rooms – 390 rubles/$6).

Over­flow­ing book shelves and work­ing gramo­phones add to the at­mos­phere, making this a fa­vorite haunt for the city’s artists and in­tel­lec­tu­als. It’s a good place to meet English speak­ers, as it’s sit­u­ated within walk­ing dis­tance of St Isaac’s Cathe­dral and the State Hermitage Mu­seum.

Open 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM daily. 82 Naberezh­naya Reki Moyki; tel +7 812 315 1675; id­iot-spb.com

TAN­DOOR

If you are seized by the need for a qual­ity curry while in St Peters­burg, don’t de­spair.

Tan­door, founded in the late 1990s, is a vet­eran of the city’s restau­rant scene and of­fers tasty, well-priced In­dian food in an el­e­gant set­ting just around the cor­ner from the Hermitage.

Ben­gali fish curry (600 rubles/$9) and ro­gan josh (700 rubles/$10.50) are among the menu’s many high­lights.

One word of warn­ing – Tan­door’s cur­ries are made mild for Rus­sian taste buds, which are largely un­ac­cus­tomed to the de­lights of In­dian cook­ing. So if you want your curry spicy, let the friendly staff know.

Open 11:00 AM – 12:00 AM (1:00 AM week­ends). 10 Ad­mi­ralteysky Prospect; tel +7 812 312 3886; tan­door-spb.ru

Clock­wise from top left: Palkin; Go­gol; Tan­door; Id­iot

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