What goes on in the kitchen and what gets served on your plate can tell you a perfectly delicious story about an important aspect of a country’s culture. Travelling is not just about taking truckload of photos in front of landmarks and beautiful monuments – it is as much a discovery through the sense of taste. In this edition of our Voyage stories at OneTimeFashionista, we bring to you our top five recommendations of culinary destinations when you are rushing to find a place to appease your appetite around the Russian cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Good to know:
• If you belong to the ‘tourist’ category and frequently eat in McDonalds or Chinese/Indian restaurant– this post is not for you
• Tipping is not required but it is suggested that you do leave some notes behind in the bill, especially if you really like the food and the service
• It will help to learn the Russian terms for some basic food and drinks that you eat/drink or want to avoid. For example – vegetable, chicken, fish, pork, beef, water, juice. Also learn few basic context specific phrases in Russian:
1. We need a table for two (Nam nuzhna stol dlya dvukh)
2. Please clean the table (Pozhaluysta, ochistite stol)
3. Please bring the bill (Pozhaluysta, prinesite schet)
4. What is this? (chicken, fish, pork, beef, vegetable?) (Chto eto?) (kuritsa, ryba, svinina, govyadina, rastitel’noye ? ))
5. Do you have a menu in English? (U vas yest’ menyu na angliyskom yazyke ?)
6. Do you speak English? (Vy govorite po-angliyski?)
7. Very delicious (Ochen’ vkusno)
8. Thank you (Spasibo)
Chances are high that the staff you will find in the eateries may speak full or little English to get by well. Incase they don’t speak any English at all, you can apply the above survival Russian phrases to break the ice and sail through.
Located inside Gum, Moscow Inside view of the impressive structure and finish applied to the Gum departmental store Gum is the main department store in many cities of the former Soviet Union. We went to the most famous GUM in the Kitai-gorod part of Moscow facing Red Square.
On our first day of arrival in Moscow, we freshened up in our hotel, left our luggage and headed straight for this place to eat. Situated on the third floor of the gigantic GUM shopping mall, Stolovaya No. 57 offers traditional Soviet style dining experience of self-serving catering as they used to do during post Stalinist era. Expect queues while people from all walks of life line up to choose from a variety of drinks, hot and cold meals prepared in authentic Russian style.
Interior of Cafe Stolovaya №57 Saturated with spirit of the soviet past in its interiors and on the menu: crimson cloths and white oilcloths on the tables Posters with some cheerful slogans on the walls, dishes cooked according to the soviet state standards and recipes from the “Book about Delicious and Healthy Food” are what you get here! Signature table decor Doing their best to keep it real The menu is diverse: many different soups, second dishes, salads, meat dishes, desserts and patties. And if you are hungry, you will want to take everything. So you can easily overestimate your abilities and fill your tray with the first and second dishes, dessert, compote and something else delicious and toasted, and you will not be able to eat all that if you are like Tanusree:) Chicken Kiev, Eggplant Rolls with Cheese and Garlic, Lentil Cutlet, Vatrushka with cherries are some of the items we tried You have never tried a lentil cutlet of this kind anywhere else, we promise Eggplant rolls with Cheese and Garlic is a MUST-HAVE Vatrushka with Cherries
If you are travelling in a group, best if one person stands in the queue and other one secures an empty table first – because they get filled up very fast. There is an English menu stuck on the wall next to where the queue starts, so you can have an idea of what you can order and what the food is called in Russian. Here we had a tough time asking the waitress to clean our table. Should have learnt a few specific phrases in Russian as above.
We recommend to try out there: Lentil Cutlet, Eggplant Rolls with Cheese and Garlic, Vatrushka and kefir or ryazhenka (fermented baked milk)
There is a special schedule for soups in “Stolovaya №57”. For example, on Monday you can taste okroshka (cold kvass soup with chopped vegetables and meat), chicken noodle soup and “Ukrainian” borsh, on Thursday – beet, cabbage and salmon soups. Every day something new. The price of one soup is 65-70 rubles. Those, who wouldn’t like to drink tea or compote, can take beer and some strong drinks at the bar.
- Price: Cheap
- Food quality: Excellent
- Ambience: Casual/Informal/Russian traditional
- Best for: Georgian style Russian food, Russian dining experience
- Nearest metro: Ploshchad Revolyutsii (Moscow)
“Stolovaya № 57” is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Landmark to take note…Mizandari is located just in front of this street art After 15 minutes of waiting, we finally settled down on our table
Russian Federation is the biggest country in the whole world – so naturally the food comes with natural diversity from its various regions both current and from the past when it used to be USSR. In our opinion, Georgian food can safely be crowned as the most delicious and appetising as you can find in Russia.
Dim lights, printed curtains, no flat screens- basically a lack of pretension makes this cafe stick out from its peers on an island that’s been dubbed “Moscow’s Brooklyn” – and that’s a good thing Open Kitchen will ensure you catch a glimpse of your kebab getting grilled on charcoal The atmosphere and low-key interior is perfect to enjoy home-style food
Georgian restaurants in Moscow tend to be either expensive or tacky. This small family-run place is neither. And for the best experience of Georgian food in the Russian capital – we strongly recommend you to discover this cosy little place called Mizandari offering mouth-watering Georgian dishes. The best way to find this place is to come across the Christ the Saviour Church, cross the beautiful bridge and take the stairs down which lead to Krasny Oktyabr. The menus came with clear big pictures of the food item so we could choose our preferences easily. Mind you that Mizandari has a no-frills environment and their food does the talking for them, the environment is very cosy and interior is very Georgian with floral curtains and personal with cozy wooden bench and chairs.
Adjara/Azari khachapuri: the famous “khachapuri boat” with an egg in the middle Khachapuri in Imereti: Traditional cake stuffed with cheese suluguni Kharcho: Made of beef, tomatoes and rice Lamb loin cooked on the coals Chicken Oriental: Chicken thighs marinated in sour cream-garlic sauce cooked over charcoal Kebab of lamb cooked on the coals Morse Buckthorn
Shehzaad recommends you to start with ordering a Kharcho (Famous Georgian soup with tender beef, tomatoes and rice). Tanusree’s favourite is the Azari Khachapuri. Bless you if you can still accommodate a main course after all that! We could, as we had a local friend to give us company plus this was our only ‘proper’ meal of that day. You should also try Khinkali (dumplings with meat or with cheese), if there is still some space in your stomach.
- Price: Moderate
- Food quality: Excellent
- Ambience: Casual/Informal/Limited space
- Best for: Georgian and central Asian food in Moscow
- Nearest metro: Kropotkinskaya (Moscow)
Mizandari Cafe is offering 5% discount on the food bill if you mention the code ONETIMEFASHIONISTA and show this promotion. Offer valid one time per party per day only. Check out their Facebook page and plan your next meal here in Moscow.
In Russian, ”Dom” means Home and this is exactly the kind of feeling that Dom cafe has to offer The interior is done in a way that you feel like you are sitting in the comfort of your home
We found a cozy corner table for ourselves, perfect for looking out of the window at the passers by
If you want to feel the pulse of the modern Moscow while sipping some vodka and watching through the window the good-looking Muscovites pass by – this is the place. Situated in the happening neighbourhood of Pyatnitskaya, this restaurant had such a welcoming interior that we liked it instantly. Interestingly they had a dedicated menu in English for wanderers of the world. As the tagline of the restaurant suggests – this restaurant had that charm to eat and meet friends. Well-dressed ladies and gentlemen of the Russian capital, some carrying freshly cut flowers, were seen chatting away and having a good time.
Every menu in restaurants/cafe in Moscow have something called homemade tea; we tried sea buckthorn and honey tea here Creamy fish soup with Salmon
Here, the bread baskets are not complimentary
Chicken patties cotleta Vodka is just awesome water If you drink enough Vodka it tastes like love While we wait for our desserts to arrive, we ordered another pot of homemade tea in a new flavour Anticipation is always better than eating actual desserts! Desserts: Eton Mess and Fillo Pastry Desserts for the beautographer: Pavlova Meringue Desserts for the lady: Napoleon cake made of layers of puff pastry with custrad sauce Most Russian restaurants will bring your bill in a mug
- Price: Above moderate
- Food quality: Good
- Ambience: Beautiful interior, classy
- Best for: ‘Grandma’s food’ touch and posh people watching
- Nearest metro: Novokuznetskaya (Moscow)
At Dom cafe, good old Russian and Soviet dishes such as fish and meat cutlets, borsch and meatball soup, pies and blinchiki are served up in a new and imaginative style while retaining that “grandma’s kitchen” touch.
We recommend you try their Russian borsch (beet soup), meat or fish cutlets and blinis (Russian crepes). Make yourself cozy and warm ordering a pot or two of homemade tea!
Dom Cafe is offering 10% discount on the food bill if you mention the code ONETIMEFASHIONISTA and show this promotion. Offer valid one time per party per day only. Check out their Facebook page and plan your next meal here in Moscow.
City Space Bar is unique for its variety of cocktails: cold or hot, classic or molecular Breathtaking panoramic views of the city Signature Cocktail Spicy Basil and Vodka Cocktail Moscow Mule 34 Birthday girl’s first drink de la nuit- Signature cocktail: Spicy Basil Beautographer’s first drink- Vodka Cocktail: Moscow Mule 34 Starter we ordered Ask for a couple binoculars Like a palm of your hand you will see a dark line of Moscow River, spires of sky-scrappers, highlighted walls of the ancient Novospassky monastery, a thin silhouette of Ostankino TV Tower and night city lights from a height of 140 meters. The bartenders here are no less than a superman of cocktails
A dessert marking their 10th anniversary Just before dinner arrives, try a ginger-grape martini
Moscow offers its visitors to enjoy the city from four levels. You can walk around on the ground level to view the Kremlin and the St. Basil’s Cathedral. You can get deep underground to view the most beautiful metro stations in the world. You can also sail across the river Moskva to take the nautical route. If your legs get tired from all this walking up and down, it is time to give your legs some much deserved rest while you sip some amazing cocktail overlooking the entire Moscow city from up above the City Space Bar. Situated on the 34th floor of the lavish Swiss Hotel – this place is where the glitz and glamour of Moscow can be seen in full force. Well-dressed gentlemen and high-heeled Russian ravishing sirens complement the equally posh and meticulous ambience. The staff are very welcoming, smiling and obviously offered top class service. While the food was amazing, the cocktails were one of the best we tried in recent times. View of the city from the window-side table was just breathe-taking. Just before we left, there were some fireworks from the Red Square which was a sight to behold from such a height. Reservation strongly recommended.
With a 360-degree panoramic view of the city everyone can choose his favorite Moscow view.
Time to leave…it was 8th September..about to be midnight Then just before we were ready to leave, we saw fire crackers in a far away…as if ushering Tanusree into 9th September…her birthday day
- Price: Expensive
- Food quality: Excellent, especially the cocktails are brilliant
- Ambience: Beautiful interior, classy, formal
- Best for: View of Moscow skyline, ideal for last dinner before leaving Moscow for a lasting impression
- How to go: Take a taxi
5. ASTORIA CAFE (St. Petersburg)
A for Astoria You’ll breath history while dining at the newly renovated, freshly decorated Astoria Cafe The Hotel in which the restaurant is located has seen over a cetury of history
The history can be felt inside, and not just through the old pictures of dancers of the famous Mariinsky theatre Advance planning is a virtue of seasoned voyagers, we reserved a window table for ourselves three weeks prior to our date of travelling
The modern interior and cuisine, with a mix of trendy recipes and traditional Russian dishes, makes for a perfect relaxed dinner after a day out sight-seeing The popular recommendation is to sit near the windows to enjoy the view of the majestic St. Isaac’s Cathedral
True that history is strewn all around St. Petersburg, the best combination of sight, sound and savoury can be experienced at the Astoria Café. Situated just next to the majestic St. Isaac Cathedral, this restaurant offers the diners the chance to install themselves in the midst of historic events and in the company of local and international heavy-weight personalities. The hotel which hosts this restaurant has history more than a century old. The dishes are typically Russian with a French twist, hence you may come across many French speaking fellow diners. Early reservation is recommended to make sure you get the best table (as we got), next to the window from where the St. Isaac’s Cathedral could be seen gorgeously illuminating the evening. Highly recommended here is the dessert Pavlova, named after the famous ballerina. It is made of a soft meringue and strawberry which is a must have to finish off your three course meal.
We welcome ourselves with a glass of bubbly each The olive oil jar takes your memory back to science class lab Shehzaad ordered this as main course: Lamb shank on a bed of yellow rice served with spinach, all in french style Salad on the side Tanusree’s main course: crispy chicken kiev served with courgette and roasted potatoes
Pavlova Dessert- a must to try Having demolished our glorious spread, we moved back to the drinks menu
We were given these complimentary boxes of chocolates after finishing off our desserts
A happy and joyful toast to mark our last night in Russia
- Price: Expensive
- Food quality: Excellent
- Ambience: Classic, spacious, aristocratic
- Best for: Fine dining
- How to go: Take a taxi (You should look the part)
We recommend their signature dishes, especially their ‘Pavlova’ dessert, which is named after the famous ballerina. It is made from meringue, and is so light that it can be enjoyed after any amount of food.
Legends say, to write a great (food/restaurants) review , you should be taking notes. We don’t. We never did. We are not professional food critic or reviewer, our words come straight from the heart, exactly how we felt at that moment. However, we care to cook at home, curious to try different cuisines accross the world and ready to travel anywhere to enjoy a fine meal, so we hope that you would find our top five picks interesting because we devoured these food so quickly we can barely remember! Delicious, they were! You must check them out, whenever you are visiting Moscow and Saint Petersburg.
And send us a snap of how you get on!0