Stremyannaya st., 21/5A | Marata st., 5/21, St. Petersburg
If you’re lucky enough to be in St. Petersburg on one of their thirty sunny days of the year you absolutely must head to Gastronomika.
The entrance, via a shopping centre, doesn’t give off the best vibes but shoot up in the lift and you’ll find what clearly is the place to be seen in the city. This enormous restaurant has a few different seating zones including a terrace with views across the rooftops of town.
It verges on the posy, with lots of well-turned out couples dressed to impress parading around. I’ll admit we were worried to begin with. The service was a bit stand-offish but once I tried some of my rusty Russian everything improved dramatically.
The menu is the side of a broadsheet and includes pictures of the food… Usually this doesn’t bode well in my book but I was happy to be proved wrong.
The duck hoisin fettucine was simply spectacular.
The chicken and scallop gratin was, also, nothing less than stunning. So yummy. Delicious.
The antipasti board was ok but a bit unnecessary after the other two dishes especially as it was such a generous portion.
Dessert was like nothing I’ve had before but featured my absolute favourite thing – burnt white chocolate. It’s becoming something of a trend recently and I hope it spreads quickly because molten and crunchy caramelised white chocolate is amazing.
Mihaylovskaya St, House 1/7 | Grand Hotel Europe, St. Petersburg
This option pushes the budget a bit more than most. Set in a retro dance and theatre hall boasting a beautiful art deco stained glass window, the restaurant hosts ballet and music evenings throughout the week.
We popped in after seeing the reviews online and booked for a few days later.
There’s an extensive menu including two set options priced at around £50-£60 a head. We went for the à la carte instead which is a bit of a maze, too many choices! Things began with a promising looking bread basket though sadly it under-delivered somewhat. Everything was pretty dry.
The amuse bouche redeemed matters. The steak with celeriac purée was delicious, possibly the best mouthful of the night. It’s a shame it was only a mouthful.
The starter, we shared. They divvied it up between us on separate plates the result being two teeny tiny scallops each. The bitterness of the grapefruit bulldozed everything else and since it’s not really my thing anyway, I wasn’t thrilled, especially when it was followed by grapefruit granite!
For main, I was served plenty of duck. The meat was well cooked but the sauce was hopelessly salty, as were the pelmeni. On the up side, despite being a bit thick they were full of salmon flavour.
Desert read well on the menu but the reality wasn’t amazing. The praline was a bit over and stuck in your teeth. The mousse was nice and light but overall the dish was just unnecessarily complicated.
The petit fours were a nice touch especially since they were handmade.
Overall, the food was average and, as I mentioned, comparatively expensive. What makes it worth it is the setting and the entertainment. We were treated to a surprise performance from a pianist and violinist. The whole thing was enchanting and completely won us over. It’s a shame we weren’t able to applaud each performance, it didn’t seem to be the done thing, but the performances more than merited it. The hall should be full of jollity and frivolity but too few tables meant that it all felt like we were on show too.
The verdict, go for the music. It’s something special.
B. Konyushennaya, 27, St. Petersburg
Just off Nevsky prospect, this cute place has a more formal restaurant above but the café below is a great a spot for a quick bite for lunch or a casual dinner. Upstairs you can get great-looking pasta dishes but for something cheap and tasty, the mini pizzas are great.
This chain of local pie shops are all across the city. They make for a really cheap lunch if you want something local. They serve sweet and savoury pastries in half or full portions. Navigating the flavours could be tricky if you don’t speak Russian but who doesn’t love Russian roulette.
Nevskiy prospekt, 56, St. Petersburg
This food hall is a lovely place to visit even if you’re just window shopping the exquisite displays of patisserie and chocolates.
Everything comes at a hefty premium but you’re paying for the setting. There’s a cute café for coffee and one of their wonderful cakes or you can sit outside for ice-cream if you’re lucky with the weather.