I enjoyed a late lunch at Saint Petersburg’s The Idiot Restaurant after a fantastical day which I spent fawning over the endless inspirations inside The Hermitage. This Dostoevsky-inspired restaurant is a cult favorite amongst St. Petersburg’s artsy and ex-pat community. Its four rooms are decorated with antique furniture, oil paintings and bric-a-brac, whilst the availability of chess and backgammon sets, an English-language bookshelf and Russian vegetarian cuisine create a suitably Bohemian vibe.
Visitors are often told that Dostoyevsky used to hang out here. Looking around the dimly lighted grotto, with its dark furnishings and fireplaces and men playing chess and talking conspiratorially at rough hewn wooden tables, you can imagine him brooding in a corner. But those aren’t anarchists in the dining room; they’re vegetarian hipsters, downing complimentary mini-shots of vodka and feasting on herring and red caviar.
I sat all by myself on a cute little love seat with a bust of Lenin looming behind my right shoulder. I took a while to study the massive menu but when my beer finally arrived I couldn’t help but laugh when the waitress said “complimentary vodka shot on the house.” Over the course of my one hour meal I munched on Russian salad in between sips of vodka and glugs of hoppy beer. I adored each succulent bite of boiled mushroom dumpling which I adorned with a whisper of sour cream. By the time I had paid my bill I was sufficiently, and accidentally, hammered. I stumbled onto the street in the midday sun.
Zolotaia Bochka “Golden Barrel” Beer
Complimentary Shot of Vodka
potatoes, pickled cucumbers, fresh cucumbers, tomato, red pepper, leek, dill
wild mushrooms and sour cream