Oliver Twist / Оливер Твист
3, ул. Белинского (See Map)
Friendly English Pub
Meals for $12 and more
This wonderful English Pub is located right next door to the Georgian restaurant I previously reviewed, Lagdize. Months ago, when I first began my internship at the Theater Academy, I discovered Oliver Twist; my first experience there sealed my fate to become a regular. It was maybe a Thursday night, and the restaurant was packed full, probably because it’s quite small (only 8 tables!!). Thus, my fellow SRAS student Justin and I decided to sit at the bar. Here we had a great conversation with the barman, ate some excellent pasta, and enjoyed the unique atmosphere. I really cannot give enough praise to the overall aura of Oliver Twist. It has the true feel of an English pub – wooden booths and tables laden with English paraphernalia. The staff is absolutely fantastic; they are extremely friendly and were so patient and helpful with my Russian.
The one downfall to Oliver Twist are the prices, which make it perhaps difficult to include this restaurant as “Cheap Eats.” They offer five different pasta dishes, which are all 300 rubles each, but will definitely fill you up. There are a few fish entrees that are 310 rubles but if you want a side dish, such as fresh veggies, mashed potatoes, or rice, you must order and pay for that separately, as is common in Russia.
However, the friendliness of the staff and the fact that there can never really be masses of customers inside means that a trip here can almost be considered a two-in-one package: a meal and a language lesson. I was quite surprised that this English-themed bar did not have a larger number of English-speaking clientele and staff. At Oliver Twist, as far as I know, only one waitress actually speaks any English and I’m not sure if it’s even any good, as we’ve only ever spoken Russian together. In my conversations with Oliver Twist employees, I learned a lot about salaries, especially in comparison to other occupations, and other cultural things regarding their own personal lives. These conversations helped me learn new vocabulary and practice talking about my day-to-day occurrences. I really came to know them well, as they did me, and I felt so comfortable stopping in just to say “hello.”
Assuming that you are gaining practice and local relationships, the prices, which are reasonable considering the size of the portions as well as the quality of the food and service, seem that much more affordable.
I’ve had various meals at Oliver Twist. They offer a great variety of entrees ranging from traditional Russian pelmeni and solyanka to more standard western fare such as club sandwiches (served with fries!) and pastas to more exotic meals like tiger shrimp and steak. The fried pelmeni are especially recommendable: super tasty and unique.
I’ve also had a few great pasta dishes here, including one the other night with salami. They even adhered to my request and added mushrooms. Most Russian restaurants refuse to change the items as listed on the menu but Oliver Twist’s kitchen is run by a chef from Nepal, which might help explain the added friendliness.
Most unique to Oliver Twist – a legitimate, authentic English Breakfast that includes two eggs, sausage, bacon, potatoes, tomatoes, toast & jam, and a drink of your choice, and get this – it’s only 280 rubles. Yes folks, you really get all that food for 280 rubles; it’s a fantastic deal! Unfortunately, it’s only offered on Monday-Friday from 12-5pm, but not on the weekends. However, it is a great “business lunch.”
If you’re on a tight budget, come in and have some smoked salmon or a “beer plate” with meat and cheese, grab a refreshing pint of English beer or cider, and have a good chat with the bartenders. Tell them Rikki sends her greetings from America!
For groups and faculty-led tours, Oliver Twist is really not an option. It’s very small and not culturally relevant, meaning that Lagdize, the Georgian place next door, should be considered for your business before Oliver Twist.