Russian ‘Stolovaya’

Just before lockdown effectively decimated global travel, Russia had decided to make it easier for visitors to travel to St Petersburg, by giving tourists easy access visas to people looking for a short-term holiday in the Leningrad Region. The decision will eventually expose new people to a style of hospitality that only exists in Russia. The Stolovaya is, by far, the best place to go if you want a lot of food on a budget and somewhere that kept me alive during my time as a student.

The Stolovaya is a staple of the Russian culinary landscape, known for its cheap food and encouragement of communalism, it has survived the COVID-19 cull of businesses by controlling its canteen style of service. The genesis of the Stolovaya means it has communalism embedded at its core. Established in place of restaurants by the Revolutionary government in the 1920s, it developed into a classy and popular location for workers to grab a cheap meal and socialise. Despite the integral communist ideological connection, the Stolovaya survived the collapse of the USSR and is now simply the best place to get cheap food in Russia. In my opinion, the best of the best is Stolovaya No1 which sits on the Griboyedov embankment adjacent to two of Petersburg’s most iconic religious landmarks the Kazan Cathedral and the Church of the Saviour on Blood. It is often filled with writers, artists and eccentrics. Patrons can grab a beer, a starter, main and desert for about 500 roubles, roughly £5.15.

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