Palkin: savouring gastronomic history of St Petersburg
Atmosphere: As you climb the grandiose stairs into a second floor, you will be welcomed by an elegant classic bar and pompous dining rooms where a pianist plays on an old piano. Your mindset will be virtually transferred into an aristocratic fine dining establishment bringing you back to the 19th century. The age of Franco – Russian mutual cultural and gastronomic exchange is imprinted not just on the menu, but also on the restaurant’s antique decorations. It is grand, elegant and the service is very attentive. Still after 220 years Palkin remains as luxurious as ever.
Food: Foie gras, truffles and beef mingle with game, smoked Sterlet Sturgeon fish and other gastronomic delicacies suggesting an upper-class dining experience. You can also go traditional and try a Shchi, which is an old Russian style sauerkraut soup, long baked in the oven with a puff pastry top. On the top of that the soup is served in a truly Russian style with a shot of powerful Rye Malt Vodka Polugar. It is really an enjoyable and interesting soup.
The current vogue of molecular cuisine has infiltrated even traditional establishments like Palkin as your palate cleanser in a form of raspberry sorbet emerges from the obscurity of a foggy haze running out of a bucket on your table. What a show! The sorbet is quite good as well and gets your mouth ready for your main course.
The main courses range from the very traditional dishes such as beef Stroganoff to more opportunistic and for foreigners quite exotic-sounding Sterlet Sturgeon. Our curiosity won us over and we had to try the smoked sturgeon fish. Nevertheless, whether it was a good or a bad decision remains disputable for us. Our thirst for trying something new was quenched, yet our taste was not impressed. The smoked fish was rather fishy and oily, serving it with a heavy creamy sauce did not helped it, rather the opposite. On the plate it looked quite scary, almost like an eel and if I were to compare it to any fish it would be this particularly rich tasting long fish. Our conclusion was that a sturgeon should lay as many eggs as it can since caviar is a much tastier product of its being than the fish in itself.
For a complete gourmet experience the five-course special menu changing seasonally and paired with thematically selected wines is an intriguing option. Most of the dishes are traditionally served from trolley trays brought next to your table adding to the already “special” feel of the restaurant.
Cuisine: Russian with French gastronomic influences
Visit: Mai 2013
Price: High (anything in Russia that designates itself as a “fine dining” or simply is a nice looking restaurant is very expensive).
Drinks: The wine list impresses and markedly shrinks your valet. There are some reasonably priced wines such as the dry Rieslings from Germany that we got and enjoyed with our meals a lot. There are half-bottles as well, so you do not need to overdo it right from the start and move to a bottle or a glass of red if you want. An aperitif in the form of champagne is also offered before your meal, so count your glasses and do not forget to include the shot of vodka with your soup, otherwise you might find it difficult to descend the steps when leaving the restaurant.
Address: 47 Nevsky Prospekt, St Petersburg, Russia.
Contact: Tel: + 7 (812) 703 53 71
Opening hours: Daily: 12noon -11:30pm