Palkin is one of the oldest restaurant establishments in St. Petersburg which has retained its original name and location since 1874, along the bustling road called Nevsky Prospect. It was at Palkin where chefs started including elements of French cuisine into their traditional Russian style of cooking. It had seen regular clientele from the elites of its times such as famous poet Alexander Blok and composer Peter Tchaikovsky. Having undergone a 2-year renovation in 2002 under the guidance of State Hermitage Musuem, its interiors has been restored and a modern interpretation of its hey-days was reborn.
p.s.: prices are based on estimated exchange rate of S$1 = 25 Roubles.
Before entering the main dining area, there is an “art room” whereby comical paintings of President Putin in various taichi/kungfu positions were hung. Natural light flows in from light-well above and together with the plants, the room was given a warm ambient.
There are several dining rooms in Palkin and this is the main dining area, with a room fit for private parties as well as two other lounges. As you can see from the decor, the ceiling and walls are adorned with intricate carvings, commonly found in palaces. The entire restaurant was almost fit for royalty with wall murals hand-drawn, crystal chandeliers and live music throughout the night.
Bread served before dinner. I realised that Russians do not warm up their bread, so I didn’t quite fancy them. Granted, they did have interesting flavours like tomato and cheese!
Instead of butter, we had cream cheese in different flavours to go with our bread. I especially loved the lemon cream cheese which had bits of lemon skin to add a zest to the bread.
Complimentary Starter of Salmon and Cauliflower Pudding – This was so delicate on the tongue. The salmon was not salty, but lightly smoked while the pudding lent a slight sweetness and creamy quality to the entire morsel of delightful treat.
Carpaccio of Scampi Tails, Sea Scallops & Red Caviar Tartare, w Olive Oil & Pine Nuts Dressing (810rb/ $32.40) [1/3 portion shown] – As my table wanted to try as many dishes as possible, we’ve decided to share them all. Palkin was very thoughtful and had kindly helped split the portions for us. This was a wonderful starter as all the elements come together to reinvigorate the palette. The sea scallops were cut into cubes while the scampi tail was sliced thinly. The herbs and dressings were not overpowering too, merely elevating the straight-out-from-sea taste in the seafood. Anyway, they call salmon roes red caviar!
Salmon Dumplings w Red Onion, Oyster Mushrooms & Sea Scallop Sauce (460rb/$18.40) – Russians like to call our raviolis dumplings. A ravioli fan myself, this was really delicious! I liked how the curry puff shape of the dumplings meant more pasta skin. The foam helped lift the heavy dish and the sea scallop sauce definitely stole the limelight. The sauce was extremely aromatic and again, light enough to not make this starter heavy at all.
Traditional Russian Beetroot Soup w Bacon & Garlic (640rb/$25.60) – This soup is a classic Russian dish, usually served cold. The soup is made of beef broth, very much like Hong Kong’s Borsch Soup, but with only beetroot. Not a mind-blowing dish in my opinion, it is still worth a try when in Russia. It can be quite weird to take cooked beef cold but it is no doubt something less boring than the usual hot soups.
Standard condiments of sour cream and herbs to go with the Beetroot Soup.
Soft bread to go with the soup.
Cream Soup of Cep Mushrooms w Black Truffles & Garlic Crisp (890rb/$35.60) [1/3 portion] – Quite opposite in character as the previous soup, the strong flavours came as a pleasant surprise. The soup itself was extremely smooth with the mushroom bits as tiny. It makes me wonder how long they blended their soup. Just by smelling it, you can identify the truffle within and that will be the first waft to hit your tastebuds. This is one soup that makes you smile the moment you bring it to your mouth. The garlic crisp was just as amazing. Despite being soaked with soup, it didn’t turn the least soggy at all.
A dramatic flair after the starters!!
Complimentary Sobert of Blackcurrant, Pineapple & Green Apple – This is meant to be a palette cleanser before my main course was served and it sure achieved its purpose. The combination of fruits was uncommon but ultimately came together well – with a tang that is.
All the main course arrived together with a silver cover. The waiters will then gather at the table to open the lids at the same time with their synchronized action and a “Voila” when the lids are off! I have to specially mention that their service was impeccable – the best I’ve ever experienced in both Russia and Singapore. The service staff was extremely attentive and they anticipated our needs even before we asked.
Sterlet Sturgeon Baked in White Wine in Mushroom & Crayfish Sauce (2940rb/$117.60) – This fish appears to be rather frightening at first sight but I learnt that the expensive black caviar comes from them! Sturgeons cannot be found in Singapore, so we seized the opportunity to try this rare fish despite the high price tag. To be honest, it tasted like any other fish but its meat was more firm and packed. I didn’t get much of the gravy on my meat but similar to the scallop sauce, it was rather light. Various kinds of olives topped the fish. As I hate olives I gave all of mine away but apparently, those olives were splendid!
Portioning out our main course onto 3 plates.
Breast of Duck Baked in Maple Syrup served w Pearl Barley (1190rb/$47.60) – I liked this. The maple syrup was a very clever marinade, and the duck extremely tender! The barley pearls were chewy, almost risotto-like with the sweetness of the syrup flavouring them. A dish very well done!
White Asparagus served w Hollandaise Sauce (440rb/$17.60) [1/3 portion] – My favourite kind of vegetable that is only in season during certain months of the year. Simple yet divine.
Lemon Cream of Hot Chocolate Bursting Sphere served w Violet in Jelly (580rb/$23.30) – The dome of chocolate melted when the hot chocolate was poured onto it. I know how simple the dish sounds but seriously, it was so good. In Singapore, we always see lemon curd tarts, but chocolate? This is a first.
Palkin loves putting up a show for its diners! There was even a portable purple light shining on the scientist-look-alike waiter, who was handling liquid nitrogen on the right. Top marks for showmanship!
Flambe of Fresh Berries in Cognac & Mangue Sobert (1340rb/$53.60) – Before cognac was added, sugar was caramelised and coated the berries. Hence they were especially sweet with a strong hint of alcohol.
Ice Cream “De Luxe Palkin”, Homemade Ice Cream (1270rb/$50.80) – The red toppings on the ice cream was frozen raspberry in liquid nitrogen. It tasted like frozen dried raspberry, pretty funky. The ice cream was velvety and smooth; it felt as though the tongue was touching a piece of expensive silk.
The desserts at Palkin was especially well done. Ok, the entire meal was excellent. Surprises came after surprises. After my trip to Russia, I realised how well Russians do their desserts, mainly because Russians have an even sweeter tooth than Singaporeans! Their dishes are not as conventional as compared to say Japanese cuisine which we are all so familiar with already, yet they are still acceptable. Palkin is one restaurant that I will highly recommend if you’re in St. Petersburg as put simply, it can’t get any better.
47, Nevsky Prospekt
St. Petersburg, Russia
Tel: 7 (812) 703-5371