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Vinostudia: Bargain Basement Buzz

Vinostudia // 38 Ulitsa Rubinshteina // Tel. 380 7838 // Open Sunday Thursday 10 a.m to 2 a.m., Friday Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 a.m. // Menu available in English // Dinner for two with alcohol 2706 rubles ($82.68)

Published: July 31, 2013 (Issue # 1771)



  • The minimal black, beige and bare concrete palette is a refreshing change from the over-the-top designs of many restaurants.
    Photo: For SPT

In a land where tastes run to vodka, champagne, and semisweet wines, serious vintages have had a hard time gaining a foothold among the general population. Vinostudia, a self-styled gastrobar is taking a stab at changing that and, if the crowds are any indication, is having some success. Unfortunately the wines on offer never rise much above the variety that can be found in most bodegas and supermarkets. But at least its a start and the concept is clear; a large selection of low-priced wines by the glass and a bit of food to go along with them.

Presenting a clean, almost Spartan, interior, the restaurant is pleasant enough although it relies a bit too heavily on Ikea for its design inspiration and so feels rather cheap and flimsy. The minimal black, beige and bare concrete palette, however, is a refreshing change from the over-the-top designs of many restaurants and provides a soothing, neutral background against which to focus on the food and wine.

On first entering we were intrigued by a banquette mounted high on the wall with tall tables and stools but after a few minutes of uncomfortably dangling feet decided to move one level down to one of the nearby tables.

It took a while for someone to offer a menu but the young, friendly staff, once they woke up, were pleasant and efficient. At least there was no lack of smiles and the fear that was evident on the servers face at having to deal with a table of foreigners faded somewhat as the meal progressed.

A prossecco and raspberry cocktail (180 rubles, $5.50) was a light and refreshingly tart way to start the evening and so we enjoyed that while perusing the menu and wine list. The menu at first seems to be mostly small dishes to accompany the wine selection but does offer an assortment of heartier plates.

To accompany the violently magenta cocktail we ordered a selection of pintxos Spanish tapas atop bread. We chose the roast beef (98 rubles, $2.99), goat cheese and sun dried tomato (90 rubles, $2.75), and smoked salmon (88 rubles, $2.69). For their size and complexity they seemed a bit overpriced but the bread was perfectly toasted and other than a canned black olive on top of the salmon, accompanied by appropriate garnishes such as horseradish for the roast beef and a drizzle of pesto oil under the goat cheese. A dish of fried potatoes and chanterelles (220 rubles, $6.72) was simple yet fresh and flavorful although the sour-cream filled ramekin that came with it seemed beside the point and not very well conceived.

Done with the cocktails we moved onto wine, selecting from the decent amount of wines available by the glass listed on blackboards dotted around the room. Trying to avoid the more prosaic offerings we settled on a 2012 Monte Tondo Mito Soave (190 rubles, $5.81) and a 2011 Maybach Riesling (140 rubles, $4.28). Both were served from bottles opened at the table leading us to wonder if they did this for every glass of wine they serve, and what became of all the nearly full bottles that must be stacking up behind the bar.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 28


Learn more about the citys upcoming municipal elections during the presentation of the project Road Map for the Municipal Elections being presented this evening in the conference hall on the third floor of Biblioteka at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. Steve Kaddins, a coordinator for Beautiful St. Petersburg, which gives residents an online forum to lodge complaints about infrastructure problems in the city, will be on hand to answer any questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to all.



Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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