What the locals are eating in St Petersburg

Whether it’s frozen salmon or gherkin soup, traditional dishes are being reimagined in Russia’s second city.

By Fiona Sims
Published 14 Jun 2019, 18:00 BST, Updated 22 Jul 2021, 15:55 BST
Vinaigrette at The Repa
Vinaigrette at The Repa

Cococo: pickled cucumber soup
Executive chef Igor Grishechkin claims to be inspired by Russian theatre director Stanislavski’s theory of ‘super-objectivism’. In other words, he likes his dishes to have history and be emotive. Cue his pickled cucumber soup with chicken hearts, which pays homage to Soviet staple rassolnik, a pickled cucumber soup. Grishechkin’s version is assembled in front of the diner and accompanied by a sweet-and-sour elixir the chef claims is the best remedy for a hangover. kokoko.spb.ru

Atelier Tapas & Bar: mushrooms with mousse
Despite the name, this place doesn’t specialise in traditional tapas, although there are a few Spanish classics (reimagined, thanks to food sanctions). The small plates pack in big flavours; beef from Voronezh, southwest Russia, is served with smoked sweet potatoes, while Kamchatka king crab comes in a puddle of bisque. The star, though, is a dish of local ceps, served with an umami-rich cep mousse. T: 00 7 812 904 08 55

Hamlet + Jacks: salmon tala
Young chef Evgeny Vikentiev likes to play with traditional Russian cooking techniques, and with this dish he pays homage to the way Siberian fishermen eat salmon — by breaking off small pieces of the frozen fish and letting them melt in the mouth. Here it’s served with locally made stracciatella, Lake Baikal bottarga (cured fish roe) and slices of fresh peach. hamletandjacks.ru

Tartarbar: tuna ceviche
Opened in 2016, Tartarbar is the second culinary offering from chefs Dmitry Blinov and Renat Malikov, who own the equally celebrated gastropub, Duo. As the name suggests, the main focus at the new restaurant is raw meat and fish dishes, served up in a hip, laid-back space complete with whitewashed walls and an open kitchen. The highlight of a menu crammed with striking dishes is the rustic-looking tuna ceviche, dressed with ponzu truffle sauce. tartarbar.ru

The Repa: vinaigrette 
Pickling and preserving play a key part in Russian food culture, and The Repa’s chef, Igor Zorin, incorporates both into his cooking. ‘Yellow roots vinaigrette with langoustines’ is his take on a Russian salad, known locally as ‘vinaigrette’. Beetroot cubes are replaced with a dainty brunoise of pumpkin, celeriac and carrots, and herring is substituted with sweet, juicy roasted langoustine and finished with dill oil. ginza.ru

Published in Issue 5 of National Geographic Traveller Food.

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