Situated near Vasileostrovskaya Metro Station, Frikadelki (which means “Meatballs” in Russian) is a charming two-story establishment that bests Kofe Khauz, its Starbucks-emulating neighbor, in nearly every category. At first glance, Frikadelki, a smaller local chain looks like nothing more than a slightly more upscale version of Russia’s ubiquitous coffee shop, but it has much more to offer. They serve drinks and pastries on the first floor, and offer cafeteria-style self-service dinner options on the second floor. Throughout the eatery is a relaxing, quiet, but fun atmosphere. About the only reason you might choose the guys next door is for the free WiFi that Kofe Khauz offers and Frikadelki does not.
This is in all seriousness about the coziest setting you’ll find in all of St. Petersburg. The quiet background music combined with the folksy decorations (chalkboards, hanging pots and pans) set a calm, serene mood. Nearly all of the seating is either couches or cushioned chairs, even the covered veranda outside. Best of all, the indoor seating is all non-smoking, providing a respite from the low-hanging second-hand smoke cloud present in many of St. Petersburg’s cafes. Smokers may dine outside.
My friend Barbara and I have eaten here twice now and neither time did we leave the least bit hungry or dissatisfied. If you go, I’d strongly recommend any rice dish they offer, whether it’s Rice with Vegetables and Eggs or Rice with Chicken and Mushrooms – both are delicious, plus they give you a pretty generous helping. Also worthy of consideration for the meat-eating folk is the Singapore Pork and the Szechuan beef. And you can choose from a wide selection of soups (Mushroom Noodle is decent), salads (Vinigret and Caprice both get the job done), and drink options including the exotic Asian Fusion and various traditional Russian fruit compotes. The dessert list is also extensive and the choices looked delicious. I plan on trying one on my next visit.
Cost and Final Assessment
This is arguably the best part of the experience, at least for the starving student. As far as St. Petersburg goes, everything at Frikadelki is reasonably priced and appropriately portioned. The Szechuan Beef and Singapore Pork are each 99 rubles (about $3.50), rice dishes are between 70 and 99, the grilled eggplant are 40, drinks range between 28-35, and soups between 28-75. All told, my final bill for a full and filling meal was 237 rubles (about $8.50).
Two big thumbs up. The only drawback we could think of was if you’re looking for a local cultural experience, this isn’t really it. The place has a pretty generic modernist feel and the menu is kept purposely global in its outlook although Russian items are, of course, offered. But, if you’re hungry and seeking a quality meal at a decent price, Frikadelki is a great place to go. You definitely won’t be disappointed.
For groups and faculty-led tours, Frikadelki can be a great choice. There is lots to chose from, plenty of group seating, and, of course, the cafeteria set up means that you can get in and out quick, even if most of your group speaks very little Russian.