Put aside your preconceptions: Russian food is not all about cabbage soup and caviar. Russia’s restaurant scene is in the midst of a gastronomic revolution, with St Petersburg at the centre of it all. From traditional tsarist institutions to modern fusion cuisine, these are our recommendations for the best Russian restaurants in St Petersburg.
Nevsky Prospect, 57, St Petersburg
Universally accredited as one of the finest Russian restaurants in St Petersburg, the prestigious Imperial Restaurant does not disappoint. Delectable portions of European and Russian cuisine, including traditional classics such as borsch and beef stroganoff, are framed against elegant windows overlooking the Nevsky Prospect below.
Sadovaya Street, 12, St Petersburg
It goes without saying that Tsar does Russian fine dining like no other. This opulent establishment comprises beautiful rooms of gilded grandeur, where traditional Russian appetisers are served with a pleasant humility.
Tverskaya Street, 12, St Petersburg
Named for sonorous, turn-of-the-century Russian opera star Feodor Chaliapin, this St Petersburg restaurant serves fine dining fare suitable for the most preening of primadonnas. Start with caviar-topped blinis and house-smoked sturgeon before indulging in porcini-topped chicken Kiev.
Petropavlovskaya Street, 4, St Petersburg
While its name may impart associations of literary glitz, Chekhov is actually pleasantly rustic (no white tablecloths or over-the-top chandeliers here). You can just imagine the city’s literati filling its cosy wooden booths or having a go at the piano in the corner. Or dining on hearty fare such as beef stroganoff and magret de canard.
Nevsky Prospect, 47, St Petersburg
One of the oldest Russian restaurants in St Petersburg since 1874, Palkin is an institution of fine dining and gastronomic opulence. These decadent hallowed halls have hosted a wealth of intellectuals and aristocrats through the years, including Chekhov, Tchaikovsky, and Dostoyevsky, to name but a few.
Glinki Street, 2, St Petersburg
The marriage of homely cuisine and flashy design may throw you off your guard a little, but the menu at Sadko more than makes up for it. Robust staples include breaded veal cutlets and beef stroganoff, served up alongside an impressive wine list.
Malaya Morskaya Street, 8, St Petersburg
Following the trend of naming restaurants in St Petersburg for long-deceased luminaries, Gogol goes beyond a single reference. In fact, the entirety of the establishment is designed to evoke Gogol’s 19th-century milieu. While supping on European-influenced dishes that were popular then – venison with warm apple tartare and cowberry sauce, say – contemplate penning your own version of “Dead Souls.”
Nevsky Prospect, 17, Stroganov Palace, St Petersburg
Set in the Russian Baroque surroundings of the Stroganoff Palace, Russian Empire offers a truly opulent experience, complete with 24ct gold flatware, fine crystal and of course, indulgent specialities from the kitchen. Think caviar, dumplings and game dishes on a (literal) gold platter.
Konnogvardeisky Boulevard, 4, St Petersburg
Refined yet understated, the Russian Vodka Room is the No.1 place for foodies with a vodka habit in St Petersburg. Offering around 213 varieties of vodka, this Chekhovian eatery also serves up many traditional dishes and fish specialties in their elegant dining room.
Voznesensky Prospekt, 6, St Petersburg
Chef Igor Grishechkin’s rising star has established its ascendancy at Cococo, a St Petersburg Russian restaurant with spectacular contemporary flair. Classics are given a modern makeover, elegantly plated and served in very sophisticated surrounds. Come any time of day, but the breakfast caviar is the real star of the show.
Stolyarnyy Pereulok, 18, St Petersburg
Chef Aram Mnatsakanov is Russia’s answer to Gordon Ramsay, with seven restaurants across Russia and Germany and a series of TV shows behind him. He’s the talent behind Severyanin, a very popular dining room which serves Russian classics in an elegantly styled 19th-century apartment. There’s sturgeon a-plenty here, with uniquely Piter cuisine marked out for curious diners.
Moika River Embankment, 72, St Petersburg
No edit of the best Russian restaurants in St Petersburg would be complete without a nod to the city’s longstanding favourite, Dom. Sophisticated starters centred around lingonberries, herring and caviar come with a stiff shot of Stolchinaya, and English-speaking staff make it an easy order.