Fodor’s Choice: Moscow & St. Petersburg Dining

Metropol, Moscow
Recalling the splendor of pre-Revolutionary Russia, the opulent interiors of the Metropol’s grand dining hall are a stunning memorial to Russian art nouveau. The nearly three-story-high dining room is replete with stained-glass windows, marble pillars, and a leaded-glass roof. Be prepared for French and Russian delicacies, including fried duck with wild-cherry sauce and a baked apple. Continental, $$-$$$$

Café Pushkin, Moscow
Imagine traveling back in time to when Pushkin strolled the boulevards of 19th-century Moscow. That’s what the designers of this high-class Russian restaurant intended when they created a replica mansion not far from the statues of Pushkin. All the favorites are found here — blini, caviar, pelmeni — and there’s a fine wine list. And it’s open 24 hours a day. Russian, $$-$$$$

CDL, Moscow
Inside this elegant mansion is one of the city’s most beautiful dining rooms — and one of the best places to sample authentic Russian cuisine. Do sample the fish soup and meat dumplings for starters, and then move on to the Stroganoff. The interior is wonderfully atmospheric. Russian, $$-$$$$

Grand Imperial, Moscow
Fried quail wrapped in bacon, rich meat stew a la Romanoff — yes, the food is rich here, and so are the surroundings: double-headed imperial eagles, gilded Empire-style chairs, original art, crystal chandeliers, bouquets of flowers and antique silver. The dining room is relatively small, and made even more intimate by a fountain and an old grand piano. Jacket and tie for the gents. Russian, $-$$$$

Palkin, St. Petersburg
The Premiere Casino’s grand dining room evokes the name of a great restaurant established on this spot in 1758. With white tablecloths and candlelight, the interior is formal and elegant, and you’ll be treated like royalty the moment you enter. If you’re not sure what to order, you can’t go wrong with poularde with morels, venison with pine nuts marmalade, fillet of turbot, or a salad of smoked salmon with beluga caviar. Russian, $$-$$$$

Taleon, St. Petersburg
A showcase mansion is the ultra-exclusive setting for this fine upscale restaurant connected with the Yeliseyev Palace Hotel. The Russian and European menus are full of hearty classics like caviar, oven-baked partridge in coriander sauce, veal cutlet with sage sauce, and baked dorade. Do check out the cigar lounge (in the casino), with its walnut-covered walls and leather sofas. Russian, $$$-$$$$

L’Europe, St. Petersburg
Think venison, lobster, sturgeon, and salmon à la Russe. It’s all deliceuse at this comely restaurant in the Grand Hotel Europe. The space itself is a visual miracle, with an art nouveau stained-glass roof, shining parquet floors, and private balconies — it’s fit for a czar, as are the prices. Russian, $-$$$$

Restoran, st. Petersburg
Stylish yet traditional. It’s an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of Russian classics that include soups and salads and pickled treats like garlic, green tomatoes, and cucumber. The main courses are as minimalist as the decor—try the simple veal with broccoli and cauliflower in a cheese sauce. Russian, $

Mechta Molokhovets, St. Petersburg
Cooking is state of the art here. Try venison fillet accompanied by baked pears filled with cranberries and soaked in chanterelle sauce, foie gras with hot saffron sauce and iced apples, or pike-perch soaked in a piquant sauce made wit red caviar. The cuisine is grand but the place itself is relaxing. With only six tables, reservations are highly recommended. Russian, $-$$$$

Photo Credits (l-r): (1) Courtesy of Palkin; (2) Courtesy of Metropol; (3) Courtesy of Mechta Molokhovets; (4) L’Europe.