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May 4, 2013 02:02 AM

Not Polish but Russian - Mari Vanna (London)

No one has ever mentioned eating at Mari Vanna in Knightsbridge. I read about it recently and wondered if anyone had ever been. The reviews are pretty decent, although the portions sound big enough to feed a czar. The decorations and ambiance seem a bit over the top, but I'd forgive that for a good blini.

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  1. Fancy a Chowmeet there, June? ;-)

    1 Reply
    1. re: klyeoh

      I'd have to think about that klyeoh. Maybe we can do better or it might be fun. I'm not sure my husband will be up for a dinner.. his surgery was the other day, and he can't go to work for two weeks. That said, he feels pretty good, but we won't know the outcome for awhile. I can always do a solo act.

    2. Despite it being a public restaurant it feels very much like a private club for Russians (they have a few locations in Russia and one in NYC). Mostly (very) wealthy Russians, and it is clearly geared towards that clientele.

      I haven't been during the daytime, nor have I eaten there, so cannot speak for being there during a quiet time, but as a place to drink on a Saturday night I felt like a bit of an outsider (and I was there with my Russian friend and his wife), although it was extremely fun.

      The decor is unbelievably kitschy; I believe it's modeled to look like a parlour you'd find at your babaushkas townhouse.

      1 Reply
      1. re: brokentelephone

        I'm half Russian, so maybe I'll fit in. :-) I did see a photo of the decor, and it was really authentic-looking. I couldn't get their menu thingee to work and open, but I can guess what's served.

      2. I've been a couple of times (Russian gf) She says it's as authentic as you can get.
        The place is very geared to rich Russians ordering expensive champagne and vodka (we had a £300 bottle care of a junior oligarch) but the food is pretty good too.
        The pickles were excellent as were the bread and soups. The blini and salmon were spot on traditional buckwheat with chopped red onion and sour cream on the side. I seem to remember the mains were a bit more disappointing - an ok Stoganoff and some very traditional Pelmeni where the meat ones were far superior to the seafood ones...
        If you're after Russian food it's by far the best in London.

        1 Reply
        1. re: hyperion

          Thanks for your report. I really haven't had much Russian food since I left NY, and this place sounds appealing, especially if your gf says it's authentic. I guess I'll have to get out my babushka and furs.

        2. I went recently on the recommendation of a Russian friend. I was highly skeptical but I loved everything about this restaurant. But to really experience MV I think it's best with a group of 4-6 drinkers. Forget the wine list and order a bottle of vodka and a bunch of appetizers to share. I tried most but particularly liked the courgette fritters w/ salmon, the Olivier salad with ox tongue, the smoked pork belly and loin and all the pickled things (blew my budget on the vodka, but they also have blini and a selection of caviars). The mains were all ok, but the real fun was the conviviality brought out in the group by the Vodka and starters. Linger and enjoy the fun!

          1. Not that this is remotely relevant but the name of the restaurant makes me think of the opening sequence of 'Jolly Fellows'....