If there’s one thing I love to do when not traveling is to still travel. That is, Travel Through Food! Of course, I’ve tried yet another new cuisine, despite the fact I haven’t traveled outside of Florida in about a month. Buckle up as I present a St Pete Beach Russian restaurant review and my first experience with Eastern European food!
Uninviting all-black building. Tacky decor. Odd vibe. Half-off discount coupon in hand. “What have I gotten ourselves into?” I thought, as I looked at my handsome date. Little did I know, 2 hours later, I would walk out thinking “This is the best date night we’ve had in a long time”
After having experienced it all, I can’t stop smiling. Even today: Two days later!
St. Petersburg Nights: St Pete Beach Russian restaurant review
What happened at this St Pete Beach Russian restaurant?! We waited more than hour and half for our food. Then, the food was just ok–spices so foreign to my palate. The Russian vodka had already hit me in the head. The entertainment was a cheesy Russian man, sax in hand, with auto-tune and midi-like karaoke songs. Oh, let’s not forget the Russian lady in the black lentejuelas dress, occasionally jumping in.
Ahh, I’m traveling.
For 2 full hours, Blaine and I were transported outside of Florida and into Russia. According to other reviewers, this St Pete Beach Russian restaurant is as authentic as it gets. The ambiance includes a full bar, dance floor, hookah, and even belly dancing (every 2nd Tuesday of the month) and burlesque shows (every Thursday).
The menu: At a glance
What about the menu? Several varieties of the staple dish perogies, in addition to chicken, liver, kabobs, pastries, and other Eastern European favorites. An even greater selection of Soviet-era vodkas and beers. While we thought the food was bland, maybe we are just not used to it. Besides — the smooth vodka and tasty Oreshki more than made up for it.
Our apps and drinks
We ordered a round of Stolichnaya vodka shots and a Baltika 6 Porter to start. Not a minute passed before the shots went straight into our heads. Oh boy, this is the good stuff.
For our app, we chose the assorted cold cuts. The Russian smoked meats were not really what I was expecting. But then again, give me anything smoked and I’ll like it.
Then it was time for Mr Boris and his sax. Boy, is he funny. In an all-white John Travolta suit he came out, trying to teach us Russian. Then, he was off, playing along Spanish cha-cha songs and ballads (but, of course, sung in Russian). I found this quite particular: Is Spanish music that popular in Russia? How were they influenced? All I can tell you is that Russians are, imho, are some of the best Latin-dance and ballroom dancers out there.
The long food wait and our main courses
We waited for a good hour and half before getting our main entrees. Yes, this would be unacceptable to most Americans. However, we later learned that the reason food takes long to come out is because they want you to enjoy the surroundings, the music, your drinks. In short, it is a Russian tradition to truly enjoy your time with your friends or date when you go out to eat.
Ironically, the long food wait is the reason why we thought this was the best date night we’ve had in a very long time. We were not in a hurry. We took all the strangeness in. We went with an open mind. We laughed at the quirkiness. We talked about our future travel plans and how we both love being in “uncomfortable situations.” How happy they make us.
Ah, this is why we loved this St Pete Beach Russian restaurant so much!
Once the main entrees were placed on our table, my date couldn’t help but whisper “wow, I can taste the hardship.” I looked at him kind of angrily, but I know he didn’t mean to be offensive. Eastern European and Russian food can be quite foreign to the American palate. Even a well-traveled Puerto Rican like myself had a hard time processing the flavors. Oddly enough though, I still enjoyed my lobster pierogi. A “safe choice” at first glance, they were actually quite different from what I was expecting! (By the way, my date, ended up kind of liking the tamed spices of his Forester roast)
Our dessert? Oreshki! We ate those delicious cookies as we walked to the beach after dinner.
St. Petersburg Nights restaurant: In a nutshell
I’ll be the first to admit it: Most Americans would hate this place. “Slow service, bland food” are adjectives most have used to describe this St Pete Beach Russian restaurant in their online reviews. However, those that come with an open mind and understand they are taking a peek at a radically-different culture and cuisine will sure have a wonderful time at this establishment. Bonus: The beach is just a block away (perfect for a romantic post-dinner walk!).
Just remember: Only bring open-minded people, with whom you love to spend time with. Otherwise, your may feel like you’re in prison…