Moscow and St. Petersburg in September
I've just returned from St. Petersburg. I found it just OK food wise (and everything else :-) We ate dinner at Russian Vodkaroom and at Tsar.
Vodkaroom is more authentic and down-to-earth but beware of groups. It's a big establishment and when there is a group it's basically impossible to talk there. Also, it's more authentic regarding the service and their little scams - "service is not included"(yes, service is included everywhere in Russia, tipping is expected around 5-10% and not more); "no, we cannot move you, there are reservations everywhere" (I can see you have an empty restaurant, so if you don't move us, we're leaving immediately - OK, we can move you).
Tsar was more upmarket, jacket is not required but would be nice. The food is more sophisticated and leans more towards the European tastes. I recommend it very much, all the dishes were very good.
Otherwise, I can recommend a creperie called Teremok - they are all over the town, they are cheap and have a great variety of sweet and savory crepes (blini) and other stuff.
Try the beverage called Mors - it's a red soft drink made from berries similar to cranberries, very good.
I hope may answer is not too late for your trip.
In Moscow I would suggest Assambleya Nikitskaya Hotel or Hotel Pekin for a good location and reasonable price. In terms of food:
- coffee is good in Kofemaniya (Coffee Mania) right accross the Assambleya Nikitskaya Hotel;
- Bar Strelka is great for the view if the terrace is still open when you arrive, but go for the food and location if only indoors is available;
- Pushkin, if still in your price range, is the best place in Moscow for Russian food (note: the menu on the first floor is less expensive than the second);
- Gypsy club for Fridays and Saturdays.
As for St.Pete - Terrassa is supposed to be the best though fancy and not inexpensive (http://ginzaproject.ru/SPB/Restaurant...).
Note that all of the above restaurants may be a bit on the expensive side, but you get your money's worth in all of them, which is not so often in Moscow and St.Pete. Let me know if you need further or cheaper advice.
I just returned from a week in SPB and Moscow. Wanted to 'pay it back' with some of the restaurants we visited, as I got a few good ideas from this board. First, let me say that when we were there (June, 2012), the ruble was 33 to the dollar and most restaurants seemed ridiculously expensive. And we live in NYC and are used to expensive restaurants but these two cities were on a whole 'nother level! Anyway, we tended not to go for the very high end places but inexpensive or moderately priced ones instead.
Our favorite was Stolle - they have a number of locations in SPB and Moscow. You can find their locations and menus here:
The service wasn't too great (long, slow lines and indifferent service) but the pies were amazing. We ate there 4 times in the week we were there and loved it every time. It seemed really cheap to us - less than $10 a person for a meal. The The one on Konyshennyi Lane is convenient to The Hermitage and that was our favorite - it was the busiest one we went to and the pies were all fresh and warm, straight out of the oven. The only downside was that it was crowded and *slow*. :-(
Teremok (Russian: Теремок) - one local described this as the "McDonalds of Russia", but I thought the blinis were really tasty and again, it was inexpensive. Little charm but efficient service and good for a quick lunch or snack.
As for Georgian food, we went one night to Kavkav, 18, Karavannaya Ulitsa in St. Petersburg. It's down the block from the Grand Hotel. The food was very good and the service was attentive. One of the rooms is non-smoking (unusual in Russia) and the waitress there spoke decent English and was very helpful with the menu. (They had an English menu but we had many questions due to the number of unfamiliar items). This place is more expensive than the previous two mentioned (it's a sit-down, tablecloth restaurant) but still moderately priced for SPB.
As for Moscow, be certain to avoid Drova, near Red Square. They have a huge lunch buffet for about 600 RUB (around $20 US at the time) but most of the food was inedible. I took a bit of about 30 different things and there was very little for which I wanted a second bite. :-(
I've got a few more experiences in Moscow in the pricey range but will have to wait until my credit card bill comes in, as I neglected to write their names down.
I can also add the restaurant Gorki, in Moscow, to the ones we tried. It is between the Mayakovskaya and Tverskaya metro stations, on Tverskaya Street (north or east side, depending on how you look at it). We were told by the hotel concierge that the food was Russian, but we found it a mix of international and Russian food. The food and service was excellent and the prices were very high! We paid close to $120 for two people and if my memory serves me correctly, one of us had just an appetizer, dessert and glass of wine; the other only had an entree.