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Soviet chic

Kvartirka // 51 Nevsky Prospekt, Tel: 315 5561 // Open daily from noon to 1 a.m. // Menu in English and Russian // Dinner for two with alcohol 2,009 rubles ($67)

Published: August 13, 2010 (Issue # 1600)


With a menu comprising a wide range of traditional Russian dishes, this Soviet cafe on Nevsky Prospekt attempts to give visitors an experience of life in the Soviet Union during the 1960s and 70s.

Decorated to look like a typical apartment during that era, Kvartirka (little apartment), attempts to recreate the atmosphere and intellectual culture once so prized at the legendary cafe Saigon, that famous gathering place once housed in the next building over that attracted the likes of Joseph Brodsky. From the black-and-white photographs on the wall to the Westerns playing in the background, the restaurant does a good job of recreating such an atmosphere, though a few quirks and ironies give the place its own unique modern flavor.

If the menu is meant to continue the Soviet theme, a simple glance at the list of appetizers which includes crab-stuffed tomatoes and herring with marinated vegetables makes it clear that this must have been the food of the Soviet elite, though prices are extremely democratic. There are also separate sections devoted entirely to pelmeni (Russian ravioli) and pirogi, or pies.

The more adventurous diners might select the cold starter of Mother-in-law tongue with green peas, followed by veal liver as the main course (though, in an additional Soviet twist, they might find, as we did, that the pike cream soup or Georgian stew are not available). For the less courageous explorers of Soviet-Russian cuisine, there are beef, fish and plenty of pork dishes.

While waiting for their order to arrive, guests may play with the dominoes present on every table while their children color in the sheets provided; many, however, will find simply examining the surroundings to be the best entertainment. In recreating the atmosphere of Soviet life, the owners have decided to spare their patrons excessive posters, slogans and flags, but the combination of elements sometimes makes for a comical effect. Over each small section of tables hangs a different antique-looking light fixture, and in the corners, ancient looking teddy bears or dolls can be spotted. A tapestry on one of the walls looks like it might have come from one of the Central Asian former Soviet republics, but the large buck at a forest pond who stared down at us from the tapestry near our table seemed a little out of his natural habitat. One thing that for sure recalls the Soviet Union, though perhaps unintentionally, is the fact that the toilets cant handle toilet paper.

In case anyone had forgotten, the elegant presentation of the dishes is enough to remind diners that they are in the apartment of an elite party member. Although the food is delicately arranged, the size of the portions does not disappoint. The exceptionally efficient waitresses (who speak broken, though adequate, English) ensure that empty dishes do not stay on the table for more than a minute after they have been polished off. Inevitably, there is a prevalence of oil, sour cream and dill in the dishes, but it is not overdone, and, whats more, the chef has mastered fitting combinations.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Oct. 2


The celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Mikhail Lermontov continues with todays free exhibition in the citys Lermontov Library at 19 Liteiny Prospekt. Titled Under the Rustling Wings, the temporary exhibition will feature the costumes and scenery used in the 1917 production of Lermontovs play The Masquerade, which he wrote in 1835 when he was only 21 years old.



Friday, Oct. 3


Learn more about how to manage and evaluate employee performance during SPIBAs Human Resources Committee meeting this morning on Employee Assessment: Global and Local Trends. Starting at 9:30 a.m., the discussion will touch on such topics as the partnership between HR and business, reliable assessment strategies and more, with Tatiana Andrianova, the head of the SHL Russia and CIS branch in St. Petersburg, as the featured guest. Confirm your participation by Oct. 2 by emailing office@spiba.ru or calling 325 9091.


AmChams Procurement Committee Meeting is at 9 a.m. this morning in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.



Saturday, Oct. 4


Wine and cheese lovers will get their chance to revel during Scandinavia Country Club and Spas Wine Market Weekend. Going on today and tomorrow, wining diners can listen to live music, take part in culinary classes and, of course, sample a variety of fine wines from around the world. The cost of admission is 400 rubles ($10.30) for adults and 200 rubles ($5.15) for children.



Sunday, Oct. 5


Look for the latest fall fashions at the Autumn Market today in Freedom Anticafe at 7 Kazanskaya Ulitsa. The minimarket plans to offer clothes more flattering than the puffy jackets that are a staple of the citys cold-weather fashion, while offering the same amount of protection from the biting winds blowing off of the Baltic.



Monday, Oct. 6


SKA St. Petersburg, the citys KHL affiliate, welcomes Slovakian club HC Slovan in a match-up tonight at the Ice Palace near the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be purchased on the clubs website or in person at either the arenas box office or the clubs merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Oct. 7


Learn more about Russias energy industry at the St. Petersburg Energy Forum that begins today and runs through Oct. 10. Attracting industry experts and political and business representatives, the forum plans to welcome more than 350 plus companies and their representatives to discuss the future of Russias largest economic sector.



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