Part 3 – St Petersberg when you need a quick bite and a ballet night out
We set our guide, Natalia of St.Pete’s Private Tours, the challenge of three square meals before a great night out; as well as guiding us around all of the sights of St. Petersberg!
We weren’t in St Petersburg to trawl the top restaurants but nevertheless wanted to eat authentic Russian food without upsetting our schedule for visiting the principal sights of the city.
As you might end up doing the same thing one day here is where we went – it might be useful to you.
By now, if you’ve read our earlier posts on St. Petersberg, you’ll know of Natalia and we set her the task of taking us for a snack, a quick lunch and a more leisurely dinner, in between viewing all of the principal sights in St Petersberg – before the ballet. After all, we’d decided that when in Russia we simply had to go to the ballet!
Making the Chebureks choppy at Brynza
We booked into the bustling fast food restaurant of Brynza that specialises in the Crimean Tartars’ national dish of Chebureks – traditionally a deep-fried turnover with a filling of ground or minced meat and onions but just one of the many varieties prepared by Brynza.
It is made with a single round piece of dough folded over whatever filling you’ve selected into a half-moon shape and then deep fried. They’re popular as snacks and street food in Russia.
Service was swift and the very tasty food prepared quickly together with an ‘Olivier salad’ (also known as ‘Russian salad’). Its made with boiled diced potato, carrots, peas, eggs, meat (or ham), cucumber, pickles and mayonnaise. We drank traditional but innocuous Mors juices to accompany our meal. Mors is a Russian traditional drink made by boiling berries (cranberry, black or red current, lingonberry, strawberry, buckthorn or any other) with sugar or honey. There’s a winter variant of Mors, when no fresh fruit is available, made by mixing any favorite jam with water!
Our only criticism was that our waiter disappeared when we wanted to pay the bill and the washroom facilities are too limited and basic for the numbers of customers. Otherwise well worth a visit after hours walking around Peterhof Palace.
Stroll into Stolle for the Prospekt of pies
You could easily end up strolling into Stolle if you want a quick snack on Nevsky Prospekt – its one of a retro ‘spit and sawdust’ chain with outlets all over that retains an authentic charm, whilst supplying a quick efficient and really tasty supply of freshly prepared pies with numerous fillings – sweet and savoury.
We didn’t see many tourists here so felt as though we’d joined in with the locals as they chatted over the day’s news or took the weight off from a shopping spree in the city’s main thoroughfare.
Its easy to miss, so worth locating it on your map from the website link below if you’d like to pause for a pie – or three!
Be happy at Sadko
With the prospect of a long evening of ballet ahead we wanted to relax after our extensive hike around the city sights. We didn’t want high-end haute cuisine, which we’d normally make an evening’s event but a more authentic Russian fayre that would be a good precursor to our evening of ‘culture’. Natalia dropped us at Sadko, an atmospheric restaurant and wine bar that we discovered has been frequented by numerous notable Russian stars of stage and screen as well as some more familiar names such as Gerard Depardieu – all of whom had signed dinner plates whilst there and which were displayed around the rooms.
The crockery and napkins are distinctive, the menu unintelligible (until we asked for the English one), the food extremely tasty and the ambiance lively but not loud.
We selected Salmon Pelmeni (dumplings) with sour cream and horseradish sauce and Russian Golubtsy cabbage rolls; followed by Chicken Kiev stuffed with garlic butter and steamed rice, plus Beef Stroganoff with mushrooms and pan-fried potatoes – all washed down by a half litre of excellent locally brewed ale. On reflection, this was all going to make the first act of the ballet difficult to stay awake in!
As a final touch, the bill arrived in a colourfully contrite Matryoshka Doll as we prepared to depart for the Mariinsky.
Be on your toes for best seats at the Kirov.
Anna at St.Pete’s Private Tours had given us the link to the Mariinsky Theatre, home of the Kirov Ballet so that we could take advantage of purchasing tickets at the same rate as locals, rather than through agents or travel companies. The process was fairly simple, seat selection straightforward and the payment gateway hassle free, with tickets delivered by email immediately.
Be aware that the Mariinsky is in two sections – the old, which is much more atmospheric by virtue of its ornate decoration (but with uncomfortable seating, built for smaller people, which is often with restricted view) and the new, which is less traditional but no less dramatic – and it’s extremely comfortable. Different performances are held in each, so make sure you select the correct performance/theatre according to your wishes.
We’d elected to see ‘The Bronze Horseman’ which is a revival of Zakharov’s interpretaion of Pushkin’s work about Alexander 1’s hopes for the future of his new St.Petersberg; today, synonymous with Russia’s hopes for its own future.
We milled around in the towering atrium as elegantly and often beautifully dressed people sipped champagne prior to first bell. We can’t help but mourn the loss of similar dress sense at occasions like this in Britain but it seems to go hand=in-hand with increased popularity.
Predictably, we struggled to stay awake in the first act but after stretching our legs between acts felt fully attentive for the next two. The scenery was innovative and superb, including a full size replica statue of the Bronze Horseman of Peter the Great at Senatskaia Ploschad’ (Senate Square) in St.Petersberg. We’re not aficionados of ballet but the Prima Ballerina was enchanting, if not quite matched by her male counterpart and the music carried us through to the end; when numerous curtain calls made us nearly half an hour late to meet Konstantin, our driver, who whisked us away from the crowds. A great evening and a fitting end to a wonderful stay in St. Petersberg – we can’t enthuse enough about St. Petersberg or our wonderful guide Natalia.
Stolle, Nevsky Prospekt 11 http://www.stolle.ru/en/menu/saint-petersburg/nevsky-prospekt-11
Sadko, UL. GLINKY, 2 http://www.sadko-rst.ru/
Mariinsky Theatre, Theatre Square 1 http://www.mariinsky.ru/.
The menus are in English and Cyrillic even if not all of the website is!
Part 1 explains our reasons for choosing the private guide company we selected for St. Petersberg and the added benefits that we hadn’t expected.
Part 2 gives you a rapid round-up in note and picture form of the sights we were fascinated by in St. Petersberg.
We used and were really impressed with:
St. Pete’s Private Tours: http://www.StPetePrivateTours.com
For more information:
Official St.Petersberg website: http://www.saint-petersburg.com/