Eating Out, Saint Petersburg
If you are staying anywhere around the Moscow Railway Station on Nevsky Prospekt and your hotel doesn't offer breakfast then these kiosks in the courtyard beside the station make for an ideal, and very cheap, place to pick up a take-away.
With my total lack of Russian language it was a case of point and nodding but that seemed to work. A well-filled sausage sandwich cost about 50 rubles or a small pizza 25. They also stock beer but even I don't start that early!
Bliny are flat pancakes which are usually stuffed with different fillings from sweet to sour. Amon them are sour cream, jam, honey, mushrooms, ham, cheese or even fish.
They are often eaten for breakfast, but you also get them from small kiosks all around St. Petersburg. A bliny costs about 30 Rubles (2005).
Over the past years beer has become quite popular in Russia. It seems "Baltik Beers" is the most popular brand in the region around St. Petersburg. I saw advertisement of this brand everywhere.
The beer has a pleasant malt taste and is very refreshing.
Bortschsch, or even Bortsch, is a hot Russian soup usually containing potatoes, white cabbage, onions, carrots, beetroots citron, garlic, pepper, bay leaf, parsley, thyme and red beet juice as a foundation. It is usually served with sour cream.
I love Bortschsch soup! Everytime I go to a Russian restaurant I order this soup but I've never had such a delicious one like in St. Petersburg.
I had noticed many locals carrying bottles of beer or vodka at any time of the day. I cannot say they were drunken - no way!
I was quite irritated to see so many walking on sidewalks with alcohol in their hand, even businessman, well-dressed ladies or even teenager. I hardly saw somone loitering in the park or sleeping on a bench.
Seemed drinking is a kind of national (or at least local) sport.
By the way, I bought one litre of Vodka in a supermarket - as a gift; not to participate the local sport ! I didn't buy the cheapest bottle and were charged by 1.80 € ($ 2.10) only! Alcohol is extremely cheap in Russia!
Tipping is increasingly expected at restaurants. Tip 10-15% depending on service. I had no idea how much to tip my guide after the 2nd day and I let her tell me $US10) the usual which may or may not have been the average but I was happy with her service.
If you're recognized as a group of tourist without a destination in a pub, there will be soon someone to show you around the nightlife. Normally they all are named Boris, and you'll find yourself paying them all the drinks, but as a Vodka is about 50US-cent just don't care about it, you'll find some intereting pubs that way.
At some stage Boris will offer you something else weed, woman or whatever but just ignore him if you don't want anything.
A friend of mine bought weed from Boris and found himself with a nice amount of green tea for 300 Rubel (15$), but, hey, he really asked to be cheated...
WARNING: I would recommend this experience ONLY, if you're in a group of 5 or more people, don't be so silly to follow any stranger if you're alone! And don't get TOO drunk!