Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: Is it possible to find inspiring food in St Petersburg without high prices?


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The Independent Travel

Q I am planning to spend Christmas in St Petersburg and, at the moment, have booked a room in the Kempinski as a treat. I have read that food in the city is either uninspiring or very expensive. The Kempinski's online menu seems to confirm that: lunch on the terrace would set me back about £100. Last year in Budapest I found lots of affordable little restaurants, although the hotel was pricey. Is this not possible in St Petersburg?

Lyn Mannering, Sevenoaks

A I have been lucky enough to visit Russia's glittering former capital a good few times in the past 25 years, but have always faced a struggle to find anything like the same range of good-value restaurants of the kind you experienced in Budapest (and, for that, many other former Eastern bloc cities). For a reasonable lunch in interesting surroundings, consider one of the 11 branches of Stolle (, which specialises in savoury pies: salmon pie sells for 760 roubles (about £16) per kilogram, but you will need only a fraction of this.

You should certainly visit the Literary Café on Nevsky Prospekt, just west of the bridge over the Moika, for some 19th-century style plus excellent coffee.

In the evening, Ulitsa Rubinsteina is a good choice; I have heard good reports about, but not visited, Sardina at number 6.

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