Trying out food traditional, unique or popular to a new place has always been an enriching experience for me. I often look forward to eating food not seen or tasted before as this can be quite an exciting gastronomic adventure.
While travelling around Moscow and St Petersburg I visited more than a dozen Russian restaurants. A typical 4 course Russian meal is very similar to the western course meals which include a salad, a soup, a main course and a dessert.
Apparently there is cross cultural influence seen in Russian cuisines as many of its traditional food are also found in other countries so they aren't that unique anymore.
Bread and pastry form a part of Russian staple food and a four course meal in all the restaurants I visited always had bread or buns as a meal accompaniment.
Restaurants tend to be cosy and well decorated but the decors often look nicer than the actual taste of the food.
The Russian Course Meals
The 4 course meals I had always started with a salad. The 'Russian salad' which is made from a mixture of potatoes, cucumbers, carrots and green peas in thick mayonnaise is nothing new as it is commonly seen in restaurants across the globe.
There are other salad variants served in the restaurants I visited and mayonnaise is seemingly a popular ingredient in making salad here.
A healthier version of salad I ate.
A decorated salad served in one of the restaurants I dined in.
The soup course is usually served after the salad. This bloody red soup called Borsch is Russia's traditional soup. Made of beet and cabbage this is known to be an effective belly warmer when the weather turns cold.
This is another version of the beet soup
Noodle soup is also one of Russia's popular food.
The sorrel and pea soup is one of my favorites as the taste is unique and nice. Sorrel leaves are spinach-like green leaves which are blended together with other ingredients making the soup greenish in colour.
Surprisingly this dumpling called the pelmeni is the national dish of Russia. This Russian variant of the Chinese dumpling is made from thin, unleavened dough and filled with minced meat, onions, mushrooms, and sometimes, turnip. This is served as the main course of the meal.
Another main course I ate was the Kotlety which are pan-fried minced cutlets. Taste wise it was just average.
Courses with rice are always found wanting as the rice is usually not cooked to perfection.
This potato and chicken stew is uniquely served in a porcelain bowl as a main course but it tasted very ordinary.
Bliny are Russia's version of thin crepes and it is a traditional food served as desserts on most Russian menus. This one is served with red caviar. While the crepe is nice, the caviar tasted fishy and salty.
The crepes may come with other accompaniments like milk or blueberry jam.
This is a very filling dessert I had.
Morozhenoe or the Russian ice cream is one of the desserts I enjoyed.
The only Russian word I am familiar with is PecTopaH as it is one of the few Russian words that is made up entirely of Roman alphabets. PecTopaH means restaurant.
Many restaurants I visited do not have broad or see-through frontages. Usually a door opens to a narrow pathway that leads to the dining room.
Dining rooms are usually cosy and well apointed.
I did pass by many restaurants that offer al fresco dining.
The Most Beautiful Restaurant
Among all the restaurants I dined in, the most beautiful is '1001 Nights'. This Middle-eastern restaurant is located at Millionnaya St 21, St Petersburg. I had a great time admiring its lovely interior while waiting for the food to be ready.
The restaurant is very cosy and and its furnishing style, quite exotic.
The walls are embellished with paintings depicting middle eastern scenes.
There are beautiful arches, elegant stained glass windows, tasteful furnishing, attractive decorative items and a few mysterious corners and rooms to explore.
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