Report: Moscow and St Petersburg
I was in Moscow for a week and in St Petersburg for two weeks in June. When I was preparing for the trip, I noticed that there are only a few discussions on Chowhound about restaurants in Russia. So, despite my limited exposure to the dining scenes in Russia, I thought my dining experiences during my trip may prove useful to my fellow chowhounders.
Fine cuisines in Russia did not sound particularly appealing to me, so most of the foods I tried are standard local eats and reasonably priced Georgian and Azerbaijani foods. Also, one website I found very useful is http://www.restoclub.ru/. This is a restaurant review site for St Petersburg. You would have to type in restaurant names in Russian. I used Google translate to convert restaurant names in English to the corresponding names in Russian. This is also useful when you try to locate restaurants on Google map since sometimes it only recognizes the restaurant names in Russian.
My favorite in Moscow:
Café Khinkalnaya (Georgian, http://www.kafekhinkalnaya.ru/)
I personally like xiao long bao (Chinese soup dumpling) better than khinkali but, among the khinkalis I tried in Russia, Café Khinkalnaya’s was the best. The wrapping they used thinner and smoother than the ones at other restaurants. Also, their (cold) lobio (bean salad) was surprisingly good. Lots of spice and very flavorful.
Other places I tried in Moscow:
Hachapuri (Georgian, http://www.hacha.ru/)
A solid Georgian restaurant. They have a wide selection of khachapuris though (as the name suggests). The most of the other Georgian restaurant I tried only had more than Imeritian, Adjarian and Mingrelian. So this would be a good place to try other kinds of khachapuri.
A chain of Uzbek restaurants in Moscow. I don’t know how authentic it is, but their plov was quite good.
Casual Eateries in Moscow(these aren’t destination restaurants):
Teremok (Blini, quick and cheap, http://www.teremok.ru/)
A blini (Russian crepe) chain in Moscow and St Petersburg. Crepes were good but a bit heavy. My favorite fillings were boiled pork and duck liver paste.
Moo moo (Russian, quick and cheap, http://www.cafemumu.ru/)
A chain of cafeteria style restaurant in Moscow. I thought the food was homey and pretty good for the price.
Yolki Palki (Russian, http://www.elki-palki.ru/)
A chain of cheap sit-down restaurant in Moscow and St Petersburg. It is a bit more expensive than Moo Moo while the food quality is about the same. The most notable thing about the restaurant may be is that they have a “cold bar,” where you can eat vegetables that are not soaked in dressing. It can be hard to eat out healthily in Russia, so I appreciated their cold bars.
My favorites in St Petersburg:
Tbiliso (Georgian, http://triton-restoran.ru/restaurant/...)
Everything we tried here was very good. I particularly enjoyed appetizers; we ordered Phaleuli, Green lobio with walnuts, and Satsivi of trout.
Apsheron (Azerbaijani, http://www.restoran.ru/spb/detailed/r...)
I had some really good dishes and some average dishes here. Overall, a good restaurant with reasonable pricing. My favorite dishes there were Lavangi (Лаванг), Govurma/Qovurma (гавурма), Azerbaijani-style Plov.
Stolle (Russian pirog, http://www.stolle.ru/eng/main.html)
A chain of Russian pie café restaurants in Russia. My favorite was a pie with fish filling. All their pies are quite buttery and rich though, so I would not be able to eat it every day. Apparently, the branch I went is their first one and has a better Google review than the other branches, so I cannot vouch for the other branches. If you decide to visit their branch, I recommend going there shortly after they open; it seemed like they only bake pies at certain times of the day and some pies would be sold out if you visit at odd times.
Other places I tried in St Petersburg:
Vostochnyy Ugolok (Azerbiajani, http://www.restoclub.ru/site/all/main... <- RestoClub review)
I did not get to sample many dishes here, but the two dishes I tried were very good. I tried their Azerbaijani-style plov and shashlik. I can’t recall the exact name of the shaslik I ordered, but it was called Shaslik-(some number). The plov here was very different from the one at Apsheron and was kind of like a lamb saag.
Suliko (Georgian, http://www.suliko-spb.ru/index.php?ty...)
Most of the stuff on the menu is good but not great. However, their kebab was very good (though a bit salty for my taste) and I would think their shasliks are very good as well. Their kharcho was very good as well though I did not try kharcho elsewhere and I don’t know if Suliko’s is better than average ones.
Baku (Azerbaijani, http://baku-spb.ru/page-contact.htm)
I only got to try their dolma and govurma. The govurma was particularly good. Other things on the menu sounded good too, but the prices are double those of Apsheron and I am not sure the foods are that much better.
Chehov (Russian, expensive, http://www.restoclub.ru/site/all/main...)
I thought the food was just OK, especially considering the price. I suppose it is meant to be homey and not particularly flavorful.
We were there over the holidays and wine is an afterthought for the most part, beer is plentiful and cheap but over carbonated. You can get a .5 liter of Russian beer for 3-4 dollars at most restaurants (the same price as soda) and most of it is quite tasty. If you see horseradish vodka on a menu go for it most of them are made in house and very good. If your going to be in St.Petersburg, I would recommend Gogol for a slightly touristy dinner that is totally worth it, if only for their horseradish vodka alone. Other than that I would pop into the grocery store and pick up a bottle of some of the mid priced vodka that you will never see in the states. If you stick to the 6-9 dollar range you will get good vodka for a good price There is a brand with two cranes in flight on the label and a cerilic name I can't pronounce that was readily available and very good. Also try the Honey and pepper vodka, a traditional Russian specialty, Sweet with heat and not in an american over processed way. We liked the Pertsovochka brand of this, it has a bee on the label and a piece of pepper in the bottle. Also in St.Petersburg for a cheap and slightly unexpected eat go to Van der Wafle a restaurant that puts just about anything on a waffle. Its right around the corner from one of the colleges, so it feels more like a neighborhood place.