They say there are still treasures in the houses of St. Petersburg. Restaurant critic Elena Remchukova went to Wavelberg’s house in search of gastronomic treasures.
Hotel Wawelberg: five star and a restaurant
A new hotel has appeared in St. Petersburg. Large and elegant, on Nevsky Avenue, called Wawelberg. Wawelberg’s appearance intrigues all regular travelers to this city. On the one hand, everyone is tired of the rude prices of the old “fives” of St. Petersburg, often miserable, sometimes dirty, but always madly expensive. On the other hand, it is scary to take risks with this Wawelberg, because it is not clear.
The house is remarkable, powerful, known to the people of Leningrad as the ticket office of Aeroflot. And it was built in 1912 by the Wavelberg family for their bank. This granite mass, built with such confidence for the future by smart and possibly rubbed people – just 5 years before the revolution – puts me in a contemplative mood for the fate of the homeland.
The most interesting is the new hotel that opened in this historic place. And here it is important to understand that it was built not by experienced foreign investors and not by an international hotel chain, but by a Russian businessman from Siberia. It looks like oil. And he manages himself. That is, Wawelberg is a huge, original, domestic work of art, something rare.
Restaurant Minerals: fine food, storytelling and high prices
The hotel restaurant is called Minerals and is also original. It generally lacks effort for the hotel’s golden mean and operates without the ravioli caesar burger. This is an original restaurant. And everything shows that the hotel, its restaurants and bars are not focused on accelerating profitability. They want to take their unique place in St. Petersburg. Hence the scope, the risk and the white card for young children. The chef, the sommelier and the confectioner are men with great self-confidence, with an individual mind in their 30s, locals with little European experience. Valery Gorinov – chef, Dmitry Kizeev – sommelier, Andrey Baglai – chief confectioner. This is a team. It is interesting to get acquainted with their work, but it is better to prepare in advance.
Open mineral kitchen
First of all, Minerals is an evening restaurant where you are asked to come without children, without dogs and without talking on the cell phone. Prices are high, portions are small. The room for 40 people is decorated in a modern, dark way. The dishes are special, figures and on top it has tweezers with fresh flowers and shavings. The service is nice and polite. Thus, it is clear that fine-dining is declared. Well, from good food, then there must be narration – without it, now there is nowhere in an expensive business. And this is what is written about the guests: “the immersion in the study of the regions of Russia and their rarities … Russia is huge. It holds many secrets – from lost recipes to rare products we have never heard of. Discovering these new aspects is like searching for treasures. We want to share with you our best findings. ”
This is where it becomes vague. Why do we need secrets? In 2022, an expensive restaurant should already have the best products and most of them, due to the financial situation, of course, are Russian. And the talk of “lost recipes” has long been considered a marketing fantasy. When they write this – expect jam from spruce cones. Therefore, I advise you to skip the whole story about the treasures of the Russian land and to perceive Minerals as a representative of the modern gastronomic school of St. Petersburg: Russian, writer, with a northern European bias. Do not expect invisible treasures. This is how the night will turn out.
What to order in a restaurant Minerals
The menu is written in a modern style, when the dishes are indicated with the list of basic ingredients. It is easy to choose. From the “Cold Appetizers” section, I will suggest the following items: Far Eastern Crab / Sour Collie / Tomato Water (1700 rubles) and Dagestan Lamb Tartar / Mustard Ice Cream / Truffle (1200 rubles). The main success of the restaurant, the Karelian porcini mushroom with cauliflower, is hidden in the section “Hot appetizers” for 950 rubles. This is a bright and light dish that everyone likes. The chef says that for him the mushrooms age in kvass for a whole month, acquiring a sweetness of bread and a soft spongy structure. White cauliflower mousse and green parsley oil combine well with mushrooms in sauces.
White Karelian mushroom / kvass must / cauliflower
Tartlets for 590 rubles a piece can be overlooked. Regardless of the content, and there are well, for example, with scallops and citrus tapioca, the price for such a crumb is exorbitant. And most importantly, the dough is a dry, tasteless shell. It is made from rice flour, to save calories, I guess. But in vain. The dough in a restaurant tart must be separately delicious, sand or puff pastry, as bequeathed by the great Frenchman. And if you want a healthy diet for a bite, then there are plenty of all kinds of porcelain spoons to serve a filling.
Lightly salted white fish / bird cherry flour / red caviar
From the “Rare” section, I tried the Altai black boar jamon – excellent, with no deviations from the Iberian samples. Jamon costs us 1200 rubles per 100 grams. If in Nevsky there are enough eaters for him, and for the caviar with Almas sturgeon, and for a plate of Russian cheeses with honey for 1800 rubles, then I will be happy. However, for comparison: a dish of domestic cheese in the garden of the Moscow twins now costs 1,000 rubles.
The best dish from the main course is the black cod with yellow beets and black caviar, jewelry, masterful cooking, here it is not a pity for 1850. You dig it with a spoon like a cake, in which there are layers of fish and caviar, beetroot petals whitened in butter and from somewhere the smell of lavender. Ask, did you feel it? It turns out that there is lavender in the marinade with beets. Also interesting is the duck breast glazed with fermented gooseberries, with pumpkin cream for garnish. Sprinkled with corn and cabbage powder. Beautiful.
Murmansk black cod / yellow beetroot / black caviar
Desserts deserve special praise. Take any, they are all active, live statements: for example, tomato / raspberry / rose (650 rubles). The pastry chef manages to balance the lower limit of sweetness, while revealing five or six different flavors in depth. Talent.
Black currant / yogurt / meringue
A cafeteria Minerals: windows in Nevsky and not just desserts
And now it’s time to dump her and move on. There is a Minerals coffee, and we have to start with that. In addition, the restaurant is hidden in the depths and you can sit in the shop window overlooking the Nevsky Prospekt in the café. There is a completely different menu, regular prices, all kinds of simple salads and beef stroganoff are prepared by the same group. But to be honest, the food has nothing to do with the dinner restaurant.
In the cafe, I advise you to take tomato soup with shrimp for 460 rubles, it has a lot of chopped vegetables, as in a minestrone, and northern small sweet shrimp. And call for desserts, cakes. As for baking, the cupcakes are rather English, thick, heavy. And the puff pastry, the croissants are buns in Caucasian style. That is, no air. But well prepared and quite tasty. And I can say the same for the whole of Wawelberg.
Desserts on display at Minerals Cafe
The cuisine of St. Petersburg has its own power and its own autonomy. It is the work of the chefs of St. Petersburg, in my opinion, that allows us today to discuss and introduce a new definition of “national Russian cuisine”. And Minerals is its regular representative. The problem is that in the city on the Neva, people know several dozen places where similar food can be obtained in idea and execution much cheaper. But who knows, maybe the Wawelberg site is really a gold mine, a treasure. This happens.
The opinion of the author may not coincide with the opinion of the authors
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