We stopped around the corner in a by-lane from the main Nevsky Prospect (one of the main streets in St. Petersburg), trying to orient the arrow on Google Maps towards our hotel when a random guy speaking relatively loud seemed to be coming our way. My friend was so freaked out she literally scurried into Cherdak, this little restaurant that was right behind us. And, just like that we found our way to what was supposed to be a local Russian friend hangout - a quaint resto-bar that had a distinct retro-hipster like character as you can see from their humorous decor in the picture above.
Initially this post was supposed to be my end all, be all type of post on St. Petersburg but realized I clicked way too many food pictures during my holiday :) So to give due respect and limelight to my favorite munching spots this post is dedicated for the one who cares about their tummy while in St. Petersburg - no shame there people!
Click here to read reviews on TripAdvisor of Banshiki
This was our first place to experience some really nice Russian food. TripAdvisor helped us out here when were looking for restaurants in and around the Geography Apart-Hotel (where we stayed). An approx. 15 minutes walk through the neighborhood brings you to Banshiki. I took a picture of the entrance 'Pectopah' to recall the restaurant later when I write about it, but in the days to come I soon came to realize Pectopah meant 'restaurant' in Russian :)
Modern, contemporary interiors with a whiff of sophistication in the ambiance. Even though we arrived around 4.30pm we were lucky they still served lunch. This is what our first Russian lunch looked like:
From left to right: House-style meat pelmini served with butter and sour cream, Spelt with pinery mushroom and fried onions, Grilled chicken skewers. The meal was a lovely welcome to St. Petersburg, with great service and English menus! For dessert we tried the 'Nuts' (biscuit like pastry given the name because of the shape) with a cream filling made from boiled condensed milk, served with sorbet.
Click here to read reviews on TripAdvisor of British Bakery
British Bakery was a blessing to us as it literally was a step away from our accommodation. So, breakfast or late night munches were taken care of. You even get a 50% off after 9pm on all pastries and bakes. Amidst the regular patisserie items like croissants and quiches, there were some traditional Russian pastries, especially the ones with white local cheese, were well worth a try.
One of my favorite and most commonly found dishes around the city were the infamous Beef Stroganoff. Creamy and smooth - you must try this specialty at least once during your stay.
Click here to read reviews on TripAdvisor of Moskva
Located in Nevsky Centre, one of the relatively small shopping arcades on the main street, Moskva is located on the rooftop with a terrace offering panoramic views of Nevsky prospect and Vosstaniya square. So if the weather is kind to you, I highly recommend you make a reservation requesting for a table near the terrace walls for a perfect view. The service was a little slow to my liking but the food covered up for that disappointment. We tried a traditional Khachapuri - cheese and bread served warm.
For mains, we tried the buckwheat salad which was cooked to perfection, chicken cutlet and the Kiev which bursted with dill butter with every bite!
Click here to read reviews on TripAdvisor of Cherdak
If you've been reading from the top, you'll know how I landed up at Cherdak ;) This place is a hidden gem and I'm glad that guy freaked out my friend so we ended up dining at this resto-bar. We didn't have much an appetite but managed to grab a glass of wine (or two) with some meat-stuffed fried pelminis.
THE HAPPINESS CAFE
Click here to read reviews on TripAdvisor of Cherdak
This cafe really wins hearts with the views of St Isaac's Cathedral - a cake and coffee makes it a really 'happy' moment! After an overwhelming visit at the Cathedral, a stop at The Happiness Cafe earns its place. It is a very busy tourist spot for obvious reasons but I went there twice and didn't have to wait for a table however, finding a table with direct views of the Cathedral will be a stoke of luck. We went for a deep dive with triple-layered chocolate cakes and the famous praline chocolate blocks called Schastye Sweets (a piece of natural homemade praline that fits in the hand and makes people happy - that's what the menu says!) that come in different flavors - great for gifting.
Click here to read reviews on TripAdvisor of Garcon
Last but not the least, if you don't find a place at the Happiness Cafe, walk a few steps and you'll find yourself at Garcon. I can't recall the dish pictured here but I can tell you it is highly recommended - meat or cheese stuffed fried breads served with a tomato dip. I also did notice the place had some nice breads and pastry selection - perhaps worth the try.
...and have you heard of Gogol? Not only is he the famous Russian novelist and short play writer but also Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli's son's name in the movie The Namesake, proudly named so as his father was a great fan of the Russian literary legend. I didn't try the food but maybe if you're a Russian literature enthusiast, a meal here might elevate your Saint Petersburg experience!