Soviet Cafe, “Kvartirka” in St. Petersburg

Published: August 5, 2013

Nevsky Prospekt 51
Metro Маяковская

Naturally, there are still signs of the Soviet Union in St. Petersburg, or as the city was called about 20 years ago, Leningrad. However, it is still difficult to find places that are really, shockingly Soviet. One of these places is the preserved Soviet-style restaurant, Kvartirka, (which means “Little Apartment” in Russian), tucked neatly away on Nevsky Prospekt.

Cozy interior
Cozy interior

Descending the steps to Kvartirka, you definitely get the feeling of entering an old-fashioned Soviet-style apartment, similar to the ones seen in films, such as the classic Москва слезам не верит/Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears or the more modern, Стиляги/Hipsters. The walls are covered with oriental rugs, copies of famous Russian paintings, and pictures of Russia. The restaurant is jumbled with different types of chairs and pillows. The color scheme reflects the 1970s US, except somehow dulled a little.

After being led to our table, which was a pink booth with yellow, shag pillows, we looked at the menu. All of the food is traditionally Russian/Slavic. They have borsch/борщ, пельмени/ pelmeni, вареники/vareninki, and more. After studying the menu, I selected hot potatoes with white mushrooms (260r), while my friend got pelmeni with mushrooms (170r). We both really enjoyed our meal, even if the portions were a little smaller than normal Russian portions. What was probably most unique about the menu was that they offered popular Soviet/Russian beer and desserts. Feeling adventurous, I got a St. Petersburg brewed «Василеостровское/Vasileotrovskoe” beer (100r), and it was not bad.  My friend got a cherry milkshake, which also looked delicious (160r).

Hot potatoes and mushrooms. Very delicious! (Very Russian...)
Hot potatoes and mushrooms. Very delicious! (Very Russian…)

Although the food was very good, and it was an interesting atmosphere, I do not think I will go back to this restaurant. Firstly, it really is a tourist location, and I think for that reason, only good for one visit. There is not much else to see or experience by going a second time. Secondly, they had a non-smoking section, but it was small and filled. The restaurant is also underground, without windows, so the “non-smoking” section was essentially another smoking section. It is also a small restaurant, and tends to get very loud. Most reviews I read complained about the service of the wait staff, and although I personally did not experience bad service, I did go there when it was less crowded. For Groups and Faculty Led Tours, I would say this restaurant is too small and too slow. It would be a bad idea for groups of six or more, and if you are in a rush.

However, if you are looking for a kitschy Soviet-style restaurant, this is definitely the place to go, and I would say, worth a visit.

About the author

Jacqueline Dufalla

Jackie Dufalla is currently a student at the University of Pittsburgh, majoring in Slavic Studies and Politics and Philosophy. She will be participating in SRAS’s Internships: NGO and Cultural program in St. Petersburg over the summer of 2013. She hopes to combine her interests by going to graduate school for political science, focusing on Eastern Europe and Russia.

Program attended: Challenge Grants: Funding for Study Abroad

View all posts by: Jacqueline Dufalla

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