Fridays have become “blin days” for me – when I treat myself to the delicious, hearty-but-delicate Russian staple food. Having already experienced Teremok, I thought I would try their main competitor in St. Petersburg, Chainaya Lozhka, which has an outlet just across the street from the Teremok I’d previously been to. I had heard most often that between the two blin kings, Teremok was the better choice. However, now having eaten at both, it’s hard to say which I would give the upper title to. They’re both solid choices.
The interior of Chainaya Lozhka (which means “Teaspoon” in Russian) is similar in a lot of ways to that of Teremok: it’s essentially a Russian fast food restaurant, and the look and feel do little to counter the domineering impression of generic fast food. One thing of note is you have to descend a few steps below street level to enter. With the café itself sunk, the sign outside is more prominent and the cafe itself, not all that conspicuous. Upon entering, the stairs essentially dump you right into the line to order, so I’d recommend making your choice of whether to eat there or not before going in. The servers behind the counter are friendly and will try to sell you on their “aktsii” or specials, as well as the desserts they have strategically placed right by the cash register.
If there were one word I would use to describe the dining area, it would be “orange.” The tables, the walls, the wallpaper, the decorations on the walls: all some variation on the color known to psychologists as one that incites hostility in many English speakers, (but which has always been my favorite). If you can get past this, as well as the relentless “uhntz-uhntz-uhntz” of the techno music playing on an apparently very short loop, you’re well on your way to a satisfying meal. And if not, maybe the half-hour of free WiFi will help.
I ordered the blin on special – the ham, cheese, and mushroom – as well as the ground beef blin. I was considering a salad, and frankly they all looked pretty decent, but I ultimately decided against it. The caesar (139 rubles) and “olivie” salads (starting at 39) looked the best, for those who might be interested. I also was sold on the apple pirog on my way to paying, which ended up being well worth the 52 rubles. As for the blins, both were fine – perhaps the meat was a little drier than at Teremok, but truth be told, I didn’t notice a big difference. Both were perfectly adequate and filling.
Cost and Final Assessment
This is where Chainaya Lozhka might actually have Teremok – the beef blin was only 68 rubles (compared to 92 for a similar buy across the street), and the ham/cheese/mushroom special was only 29! All told the bill, even with dessert, was a very affordable 149 rubles. As I mentioned, I didn’t order a salad; but if I had my bill would have been more in the 200-300 range.
This is no Hotel Astoria, or even Frikadelki, but then it doesn’t claim to be. It definitely gets the job done, so long as your expectations are not set above “fast food.” If you’re in the mood for a quick, filling, affordable, and perfectly tasty meal, you can definitely find it at Chainaya Lozhka. Make sure to try Teremok as well to determine which one lays claim to the title “Blin King of St. Petersburg.”
For groups and faculty-led tours, Chainaya Lozhka may be a bit small if you have more than 8-10 people. However, if you can find one with outside seating or one located next to a park (there are several locations around St. Pete), in summer these might be a possibiltiy even for larger groups.