Andrey Makhov, the chef at Moscow’s Café Pushkin and New York City’s new Brasserie Pushkin, is known for his haute Russian cooking. But when catering jobs take him to St. Petersburg, he heads to restaurants that serve home-style Russian dishes, often paired with the national drink, vodka. Here are Makhov’s traditional and trendy favorites.
Stroganoff Steak House “Steak is increasing in popularity in Russia, and this restaurant offers the best selection in town. It is located in a former horse-guard barrack and is decorated with horseshoes and nails once used for hitching horses. The crowd is largely made up of regulars, which creates a cozy, lively atmosphere. Then there is the meat: top quality and grilled directly over an open fire.” 4 Konnogvardeysky Blvd., 7/(8) 812-314-5514, stroganoffsteakhouse.ru
Mechta Molokhovets “Aristocratic recipes such as Ladoga Lake whitefish with roasted potatoes and kurnik—a kind of chicken pot pie filled with rice, hard-boiled eggs, and mushrooms—are the specialties here. Dishes are served with indigenous berries, roots, and other interesting edible garnishes. The restaurant is in the style of a noble 18th-century St. Petersburg house.” 10 Radisheva St., 7/(8) 812-929-2247, molokhovets.com
Ginza “Japanese food culture has been aggressively conquering the Russian market over the past seven or eight years. This has led to the opening of a large number of Japanese restaurants. Ginza is an Asian fusion restaurant with great sushi; its chefs use only the freshest ingredients. Everything is very good, but the warm sushi with foie gras deserves special attention.” 16 Aptekarskiy Prospekt, 7/(8) 812-324-7094, restoran-ginza.ru
Russian Vodka Room No. 1 “This inviting space feels like a Soviet-era dacha [country house]. It has a large selection of authentic and affordable Russian dishes such as homemade buzhenina [fresh baked ham] that can be paired with infused vodkas. Slivyanka, a plum-infused vodka, is a great choice. There’s also a vodka museum on-site.” 4 Konnogvardeysky Blvd., 7/(8) 812-570-6420, vodkaroom.ru
Illustration by Michael Hoeweler. This appeared in the July/August 2012 issue.