Tam Tam's very eastern-looking sign

Cafe Tam Tam: Quick Lunch in St. Pete

Published: August 13, 2011

Cafe Tam Tam / Кафе Там Там
Спасский переулок, 7. (See Map)
Eats for ~$6.50 and up

On a relatively quiet section of Spasskaya Street, Cafe Tam Tam boasts a bright orange and yellow sign that juts out over the walkway. When I first saw it, I thought the cafe must be Middle Eastern or even Indian, but when I went in, it looked like a typical Russian eatery: small, white walls, wooden chairs, one waitress. But I decided to stick with it. And I’m glad I did.

The Food

Because the 170-ruble business lunch sounded so good and so filling, I was really tempted to get it. But I’ve done that a few times now and so I figured it was time once again to venture into the world of “the rest of the menu.” And although what I got was probably not quite as filling as – and definitely more expensive than – the business lunch would have been, I think I made the right choice. In order to (almost) stay within the 300-ruble limit I was able to choose only two menu items: the mushroom julien off the “hot appetizer” menu, and the chicken with pistachio sauce. When I ordered them, the waitress warned me that they didn’t have any already prepared so it would be about a 15 minute wait while they made them. It was totally worth the wait.

The mushroom julien is a small dish, traditionally served in what appears to be a silver metal measuring cup, and included onions, cream, and melted cheese with the mushrooms. It was still piping hot when they brought it, but after the first bite I decided it could have been 400 degrees and I was going to keep eating it – it was that good.

Then I started on the pistachio chicken dish, which came with a side of vitamin salad and an orange slice. It wasn’t the best vitamin salad I’ve had – a little bland – but it did the job. The chicken, on the other hand, was delicious. I wasn’t able to convince myself that I could taste the pistachio, but even so it was delicious – the sauce was seasoned just right and the chicken was tender, not to mention there was a pretty generous serving of it. Out of the two I’d frankly say the mushroom dish was better, but both were incredible and completely worth the wait (which was reasonable anyway).

The Service

Kind and quick, considering. It took my server several minutes to bring me a menu. I eventually got up to get one for myself, but when she saw this she was quick to apologize and bring one to me. She was quiet but friendly, considering it was a Russian cafe, and she even smiled a few times. She was also very patient with me as I tried to decide between the different appetizers and chicken dishes.

Conclusion

The mushroom julien was 130 rubles, and the pistachio chicken was 180, bringing the total bill to 310. Considering the quality, I considered it to be a pretty fair deal.

It won’t bowl you over with charm or character. But if what you’re after is a really good meal for a decent price, and if you bring your own drink, Cafe Tam Tam will deliver for you. (I usually bring my reusable water bottle and haven’t been reprimanded for it so far. This usually saves me two or three dollars at each meal.) The food was, honestly speaking, some of the best I’ve had in two months in St. Petersburg. And of course I can’t speak for the rest of the menu, but if my selections were any indication, everything on there is worth a try.

For groups and faculty-led tours, Cafe Tam Tam is probably too small and too unremarkable in terms of the tourist value of the menu and atmosphere. However, if your group is small (probably 12 max) and if you are in the area, the price and service will likely meet your needs.

About the author

Chris Chaplin

Chris Chaplin is an undergraduate studying law and conflict resolution at the University of Oregon. He previously worked for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kazakhstan from 2007-2009. He is currently studying Russian as a Second Language and serving an internship with Peace House in St. Petersburg through SRAS. He really, really loves food.

Program attended: Challenge Grants: Funding for Study Abroad

View all posts by: Chris Chaplin

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