Pel’ & Men’ / Пель & Мень
43 Моховая ul. (See Map)
Cheap Pelmeni, Soups, Salads
Meals for $4-9
This “hole-in-the-wall”, or better – “hole-in-the-floor,” restaurant is located in a basement on the same quiet side street as Saint Petersburg State Theater Academy. It is popular with the locals, including the theater students. As I walked in, I immediately noticed a quiet atmosphere with no music, lavender walls and pictures of flowers. The peaceful ambiance was a nice break from the overplayed techno music in many Russia cafes. I stayed an extra half hour after my lunch to do some homework.
At Pel’ & Men’ one must approach the counter and order from a small menu of pelmeni (from which it derives its name), soups, and Russian salads. Today I chose borsch, pelmeni, and tea. They offer many other types of pelmeni, with and without meat. Their borsch is also served without meat, and so is a vegetarian friendly option! I also paid extra for some sour cream and a piece of bread. Once I paid – a measly 221 rubles – I sat myself among the restaurant’s twenty or so seats, all located within a single room.
Within five minutes my food arrived. My borsch was a bit unusual with the addition of beans. But it was very tasty and hot, even though I saw the waitress put in the microwave. However, there was FAR too much dill, even for Russian standards. My pelmeni were also served with way too much dill, which gave them a crunchy texture. My optional side of sour cream was enough for both entrees. The pelmeni were great – perfect dough, flavorful, and juicy.
The portions were great, especially for the price. I left feeling full; however, the meal was quite light and I also left with the feeling that I would be hungry within a few hours. Overall, I totally recommend this place, but only if you happen to be in the area – for instance, if you are attending the Theatre Academy. It’s tasty and cheap, but the food is nothing spectacular. Make sure you hit it in the afternoon, however, as it is mainly a lunch spot and they seem to make most of the food in advance, so I can imagine the food may decline in quality as the day progresses.
For groups and faculty-led tours, Pel’ & Men’ is probably not a consideration. Seating can be tight and the cultural value of the establishment is relatively low, meaning that better options can probably be found elsewhere.