Cheburechnaya / Чебуречная
Васильевский Остров, 6-я линия, дом 19. (See Map)
Meals for ~$6.50 and up
After visting the Kunstkamera, a bizarre collection of biological specimans gathered by Peter the Great’s personal (and apparently a bit warped) curiosity, fellow SRAS student Laura and I wanted to have a quick lunch before going to our lecture. We decided on Cheburechnaya, as her copy of Lonely Planet recommended it and it seemed as if it would be something quick.
Located on the 6th Line of Vasilevsky Island, Cheburechnaya is ideal for SRAS students attending language classes at Saint Petersburg State University. Laura’s guide book bills the place as Georgian, even though the Cheburek (a folded, fried, savory pastry) is better known as an Uzbek dish and the inside of this particular establishment is really much more Soviet cafeteria than anything. The cultural experience here is one of an ordinary place where Russians go on their lunch breaks. When we arrived, the place was almost full, and the woman ahead of us bought nearly 2000 rubles’ worth of lunches, put them in bags and presumably returned to her office to a group of hungry coworkers. The service is fairly brusque, but quick, and you pick your salad yourself from a sideboard, and have the other dishes cooked fresh behind the counter. Once you have paid, you’re given a receipt which you then must give to the women cooking in order to get your product. This is the same system that the USSR used to make people go through for nearly purchase from groceries to building materials.
I ordered a schnitzel with peas and fried potatoes (160 rubles) and a pickled vegetable salad (70 rubles). Laura had the same salad but also ordered a cheburek stuffed with cabbage (90 rubles). The schnitzel was a good size and was prepared relatively quickly. The cheburek was already ready when we gave the cook the receipt. All our food was delicious, and the portions were a good size. I couldn’t actually eat all of my food and was full for hours afterwards. As for drinks, they serve glasses of assorted varieties of juices at the cash register for 35 rubles, and also sell Coca-Cola and bottles of water. There’s another room with a bar that sells 60-100 ruble beer.
The atmosphere is nothing special, and the woman behind the cash register likes to yell at her customers. They expect fairly exact change when paying, and I think the woman got so flustered at having two foreigners in her restaurant that she actually under-charged me, while over-charging my friend by 5 roubles. But whatever – the food was good and cheap!
For groups and faculty-led tours, the restaurant is large enough to handle a group of 12-20 students, though there may not be space at the lunch hour. If going on an off-peak time, it would be appropriate if the students wanted something quick and inexpensive. It lacks atmosphere and isn’t really a place that encourages you to sit and stay awhile, although the bad Russian pop music playing in the background was a nice touch, but for a reasonably-priced lunch on the fly it does just fine.