25 February, 2014
Khutor Vodograi, meaning Village Waterfall in Ukrainian, is a delightful Ukrainian restaurant in St Petersburg, just off Nevsky Prospect and close to the Liden and Denz centre. It’s definitely worth a visit, and we can’t recommend it enough!
The outside is stunning, with sunflowers climbing up the walls and along the railings, and stands out on the street so it’s impossible to miss. Inside, it’s huge: two floors with five halls and a massive tree growing from the cellar through the restaurant to the very top. Apparently, it’s not a real tree but it’s beautiful anyway!
Russia has a reputation for poor customer service but the staff in Khutor Vodograi are really lovely, all dressed in national Ukrainian dresses and constantly smiling. They greet you in Ukrainian at the door, which is a little bit confusing at first, but they quickly switch to Russian! They also speak English and have English menus but you should definitely get one in Russian to practice!
The food is excellent and traditional, with dishes like stews and pies, and buckwheat pancakes. It’s fairly priced as well so you can afford to get a main and a dessert, and you should definitely try the vareniki (dumplings) and then have the “chocolate sausages” for dessert!
If you fancy a drink or two, give the buckthorn liqueur a try, which is very mild but very strong! Vodograi, which is brewed there, and samagon are also good choices. If you’d rather something a little less alcoholic, they have a wide selection of beers and wines, and soft drinks as well.
The food and decoration are all well and good but the real reason to visit Khutor Vodograi is the atmosphere: the staff are all very friendly and helpful and the customers tend to be middle-aged locals and, of course, Ukrainian nationals, so the atmosphere is very relaxed. The unique selling point, however, is the Ukrainian folk band that perform each night. A band of two women singing and a man playing an accordion, all wearing Ukrainian traditional dress, entertain guests while they eat and very quickly get everyone singing along and clapping. You’ll definitely see some locals get up to dance as well!
Khutor Vodograi is located on Karavannaya Ulitsa, just off Nevsky Prospect, by the Fontanka.
Jade Mitchell-Ross is an English student, currently on an internship while studying Russian at Liden & Denz