From imperial restaurants to historic food halls, here are the best places to sample caviar in St Petersburg
From blinis to stroganoff, Russia’s culinary delicacies are many, but one that stands out above all others is caviar. These salt-cured fish eggs, farmed from wild sturgeon, are a gourmet luxury and a trip to St Petersburg is an excellent opportunity to sample their unique and salty taste. From caviar platters at Tsar Restaurant to eggs by the bucket load at Kuznechny Market, here are the best places to find caviar in St Petersburg.
Tsar Restaurant is one of the most opulent restaurants in the city, in terms of setting and cuisine. It takes traditional Russian dishes and give them a subtle contemporary twist to better suit a modern, fine dining audience. The most popular of the restaurant’s array of local delicacies, caviar is offered in a range of varieties from Pike, Trout and Atlantic Salmon to Sturgeon, Starred Sturgeon and Beluga (the rarest and most expensive variety). Kick-start your caviar discovery with a tasting and enjoy three premium varieties, washed down with vodka or Champagne. Tsar Restaurant serves caviar in the traditional way, on mother of pearl spoons accompanied by fritters, rye toast and sour cream.
Another excellent restaurant serving premium caviar is Palkin. The historic eatery, which dates to 1785, is famed for its fine Russian gastronomy and imperial setting. Enjoy a sophisticated tasting experience and choose between black or red caviar, served with wheat pancakes, sour cream and quail eggs, or select the assorted caviar option and treat yourself to a platter of different varieties. Follow the tasting with classic French and Russian dishes based on recipes of bygone eras.
Emporium is an iconic store with a rich and regal history. Located on Nevsky Prospect, the complex houses a grand food hall that’s been serving the city’s elite since opening in 1902. Every day, Russian gourmands flock to Eliseevy Merchant’s Shop, where luxury goods, including caviar, are presented in an opulent Art Nouveau setting. The store is one of the best places in the city to buy premium caviar, and highlights of its vast collection include rare amber and gold caviar, home-branded black sturgeon caviar from Astrakhan, and superior varieties including Beluga. On your way out, don’t forget to take in the whimsical moving window display by Mikhail Shemyakin.
The largest food market in the city, Kuznechny Market is another great place to shop for caviar in St Petersburg. Pass through rows of fruits and vegetables to seek out the aisles dedicated to caviar and Russian delicacies like smoked fish, dried herring and tripe. Prices may be higher here than at other markets, but the quality and variety is unbeatable. Haggling is expected, so try your hand at negotiating a good price.