Authentic good food in Saint Petersburg
Just booked a trip to Saint Petersburg for December this year and already read the previous postings (like the suggestion to eat in big hotels... yaik :( ).
I will definitely hit the "Art of Russia" place run by Eka http://progoblin.ru/test/places.html
However, I was wondering if somebody else might have any suggestions as to where I can find AUTHENTIC and DELICIOUS Russian food that is not extremely expensive and in rather "normal/laid back" locations.
Thanks a lot in advance...
Chow, chow :)
I posted on this city back in 2004. Things change so fast there that anything I could tell you could easily be out of date. We liked a little place (can't remember the name) just next to Chaika on Canal Griboyedova where you order at the counter. We gorged ourselves on late-night pelemeni and draft beer there. Hopefully it's still there. Also, seek out the Tinkoff microbrewery near St. Isaac's cathedral - they're growing fast so I bet it's still there. They have sushi there but we vastly enjoyed the whole roast chicken, fries, and "White Nights" draft beer.
Another place for traditional food is the chain "Yolki Palki" (there's one on Nevsky) - it's touristy, but you can get all the traditional stuff there and it's not too pricey (huge salad bar, too).
There's only so much "Russian" cuisine, which can get exhausted fairly quickly, so also try the two other stars of ex-Soviet cooking: Georgian and Central Asian. For Georgian you could hit Pirosmani, Bagrationi, or the Kavkaz. For Central Asian go to 1001 Nights for some laghman, plov, and nan -- not as authentic as you'd get in Uzbekistan or Kyrgyzstan but that's a whole 'nother trip. The Tinkoff does have excellent beer.
But do make sure you find some good borshch, pel'meni, solyanka, shchi, etc. You'll notice it's heavy on the soups and dumplings but you'll need something fortifying in Piter in dark, cold December!
I just returned from a fabulous two weeks in "Piter." I have several recommendations for good eating: foremost being that you hit up the huge bazaar behind the Sadovaya Metro station. Check out the delicious smoked fish selection (the ladies will cut off small pieces to put on the back of your hand for you to taste): we bought one fish that was so smooth and velvety it was like sashimi. It changed my definition of smoked fish forever. Also at the market is a good selection of pickled vegetables, peddled by Armenian women who are more than happy to toss in a few extra sprigs of pickled wild garlic if you take a few bags of their delicious pickled cabbage and carrots, not to mention red garlic. There was also a Korean woman selling a delicious, frilly-white mushroom salad. You should also try the Russo-Korean treat of pickled, dried asparagus mixed with spices and julienne carrots.
Buy a loaf of dark rye bread, some cucumbers and tomatoes, a small tub of smetana (sour cream), and some smoked fish, and you have yourself a lovely Russian picnic meal.
I was very pleased with the "Naxodka" grocery store located behind the "Dom Kino" on Ul. Sadovaya, just a few blocks off the Nevsky Prospect. They sell a delicious Azeri pomegranate juice that tastes much better than what you can buy here. Also, "MOST" made from wild strawberries or cranberries and blueberries (check the package illustrations) is an interesting, if very sweet, beverage.
Try some of the unique Russian dairy products: "RYAZHENKA," a pale pinkish-cream colored fermented beverage somewhere between yogurt and kefir, and of course the tasty KEFIR.
As for eating out, we enjoyed the blini from the stand on Pl. Sadovaya that is NOT Teremok. The blini were thinner and the fillings tasted fresher. I recommend the mushrooms in cream sauce, although I also enjoyed the red caviar, butter, and dill filling.
The best meal I had was at a Dagestani restaurant on Ul. Efimovna 5, just off Pl. Sadovaya (good eating around that square, it seems!) You go down a flight of stairs to a lower level than the street. The waitress is very friendly and quick to offer English menus -- I think this is because the place is featured in Lonely Planet -- and there were many other families dining when we went. She took a lot of time explaining the dishes to us, even drawing small illustrations on her notepad to prove her point! Try the grilled eggplant rolls stuffed with a walnut-mayonnaise mixture; it's a classic and very good. We enjoyed the lagman, a beef broth with homemade noodles and vegetables. If you're tempted to order the large pancake stuffed with pumpkin or cottage cheese and potato, be aware that it is very large and very heavy (but tasty) -- so your best bet is probably ordering several dishes for the table and just trying a little bit of each.
If you venture out a little bit from Nevsky and try a few bakeries and "magazini," I think you'll be very happy with what you find! Enjoy your trip.