Grand Hotel Europe is one of the most prestigious hotels in St Petersburg. Centrally located, this hotel has been a cultural and culinary landmark for over 130 years. Fully equipped for business and leisure guests with the highest expectations, it boasts beautiful bedrooms, fine restaurants, shopping outlets, a beauty salon and much to my excitement, a pastry shop.
We visited on a Friday evening in December; as snowflakes began to fall outside we were relieved to step inside the warm, cosy lobby. After a brief look at the stylish new suites, we sat at the bar for a classic cocktail, while a jazz pianist played in the background. The hotel suits jazz, the old glamorous décor evokes a bygone era of opulent luxury.
The hotel’s main eatery, L’Europe is Russia’s oldest continuously serving restaurant. The elegant art nouveau room is a wonder – one is surrounded by stunning stained glass windows and regal detailing. We were lucky enough to be present for a famed Tchaikovsky Night, which takes place here every Friday – guests enjoy a wonderful performance of music and ballet accompanying the top cuisine.
We were seated at 8pm, at an isolated table close to the small stage. Dimly lit with flickering candles, it was a very intimate and romantic setting. We sampled a range of Russian cuisine which the L’Europe team created with care and innovation. A glass of bubbly was the perfect start to the meal, perking up our tastebuds for the food ahead.
The menu is lengthy and varied with traditional and modern dishes to please every palate. I tried country style Russian blinis filled with pan-fried cabbage and minced beef and served with whipped sour cream, herbs and a hint of garlic. They were like soft spring rolls with a sweet meaty filling and topped with contrasting cream. More international was the grilled scallops with Iberico ham, warm chard, zucchini, green beans and potato, a subtle combination of flavours and textures.
For main course we ordered Beef Stroganoff, which is obligatory when in Russia! This dish can be clumsy and laborious to eat but L’Europe create a refined version, a creamy sauce with high quality meat and topped with delicious crispy onions. The best bit for me was the pile of silky smooth buttery mash which complemented the meat dish. The waiter insisted we try Russian wine which was surprisingly tasty and well matched with the food.
To complete the lovely evening of culture and culinary delights, we shared an indulgent rich chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream and a pot of fresh mint tea. Sophisticated food and dazzling music by talented musicians – you couldn’t hope for a more special night in St Petersburg.
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