ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA: Restaurant Abrikosov

Even though the Soviet Union is no more, visitors to current-day Russia hardly enjoy unfettered access. Unless one applies for and is granted an independent visa, you must be on an organized tour by a sanctioned tour operator. Such tours are usually quite regimented and participants closely tracked, allowing little room for independent exploration.

So when one of the tours offered by our cruise line offered “Time on Your Own,” I jumped.

Most of that time on our own was spent along the Nevskiy Prospekt, the city’s main shopping street. Although we are not people who need “retail therapy,” sightseeing, window shopping and people-watching were all quite enjoyable.

Even more enjoyable was our light lunch at a little café called Abrikosov (or АБРИКОСОВЪ in Cyrillic).

We’d initially popped in for coffee and a sweet, but were captivated by the modest menu.

Americanos to start

After starting out with Americano coffees, I had to indulge in some of the other offerings. Being partly of Polish heritage, I was familiar with many, and chose a Russian hot borsch followed by potato pancakes.

The borsch had good beet flavor (no, that is NOT a contradiction in terms) in a hearty broth that also contained bits of beef. The potato pancakes were thick, hot and creamy. The side of grilled mushrooms and green onions added just the right amount of umami and oniony bite.

My wife, meanwhile, opted for an apricot tart, which had a nice flaky crust and tender fruit. We also snagged some macarons and French fruit jellies to take back to the ship.

Service was quick and cordial, with most of the servers speaking excellent English. Those who didn’t grabbed colleagues who did when it was necessary, so communication was not an issue.

Many restaurants in Russia add an automatic service charge of around 10 percent, so look for the word “service” or similar on your bill (never a “check”). If such a line appears, you’re covered. If not, a few rubles (pronounced “rubbles” by the locals) or euros left on the table will be appreciated.

Abrikosov is located at 40-42 Nevskiy Prospekt, about a block east and across the street from the Kazanskiy Skver, also known as Kazan Cathedral and Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan.

Kazanskiy Skver

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Photos by Carl Dombek
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