Molokhovets Dream in St Petersburg is inspired by a cookbook by Elena Molokhovets called A Gift to Young Housewifes. The book was reprinted 28 times between 1861 and 1914 and was a bestseller which was never reprinted during the Soviet era as it was seen as bourgeois.
Of course in Russia today, bourgeois is back with a bang. Molokhovets Dream is in one of the many palatial and slightly crumbling buildings in St Petersburg. The interior is fairly modern with only a handful of tables and its own cigar humidor and pianist. Despite being a fairly high end restaurant with a formal atmosphere, on our visit most of the clientele were tourists clutching guide books. However, there was one “new Russian” couple in the corner: a young peroxide blonde and an older man chain smoking (yes smoking is allowed in Russian restaurants even the bourgeois ones).
Service was (and particularly for Russia) fantastic. Once we sat down and ordered wine, complimentary appetisers of smoked salmon in aspic appeared. I am not a fan of aspic at all, don’t get me wrong I like a bit of fat, but pure fat I find just too much. In it’s defence the appetiser was beautifully presented and in Molokhovets time I suppose it would have been the height of chic. MTV boyfriend opted for the beef stroganof as a main in honour of the Stroganof Palace (yes really) we had seen earlier during our walk through St Petersburg. The stroganof was contained in a pastry shell with a birds nest of potato curls atop and potato croquettes dotted throughout. It was a very “busy”dish and MTV boyfriend felt there was not as much sauce as he would have liked, but otherwise he was a happy camper. I had the venison with mushrooms with cowberry sauce (also known as lingonberry or mountain cranberry). The flavours worked well together but the venison was just a tad dry.
Dessert was equally spectacular in it’s presentation. MTV boyfriend had the apple tarte tartin and I went for the chocolate pudding with hazelnut and a cowberry (a recurring theme) sauce. Both desserts were excellent and provided the requisite sugar hit to leave us feeling sated.
As we left, the piano player was still tinkling away as a stern portrait of Elena Molokhovets looked down from the wall. Molokhovets Dream was an interesting concept in its faithful reproduction of a period of Russian history, however this theme meant that the cooking was somewhat over fussy and the atmosphere staid.
Details: 10 Radischeva St, St Petersburg, Russia (Phone 812/579-2247)
Damage: Budget Blow Out