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Geographia: A Culinary Discovery

Geographia // 5 Ulitsa Rubinshteina // Tel. 340 0074 // Open 11 a.m. until the last guest leaves. // Dinner for two with alcohol 3,980 rubles ($120.56)

Published: January 15, 2014 (Issue # 1793)



  • Despite the lack of natural light, the windowless interior is comfortable and resists seeming claustrophobic.
    Photo: VKontakte

The latest eatery to open on Ulitsa Rubinshteina, Geographia is a cut above the rest, single-handedly raising the tone of a street that frequently offers more choice than quality. Of the streets handful of truly enjoyable restaurants, Geographia now tops the list of places that deserve a second visit.

Visiting early on a quiet evening over the new year holidays, the true character of the place was not yet in evidence. What we did find was a calm, elegant and modern oasis that was at once welcoming and familiar.

Ushered into the back dining room a windowless chamber that is tranquil and plush we settled into a wide, comfortable booth. With walls covered in a burgundy red painted paneling and herringbone tweed and red seat coverings accented with a band of electric blue, the room is furnished with a beautiful hexagonal table at its center and resists seeming claustrophobic despite the lack of natural light.

The menu at Geographia presents a mix of Asian inflected dishes that treads a fine line between fusion and classicism. The wine list is one of the best we have come across in a long while and the selections by the glass are all appealing. While waiting for glasses of a 2010 Billaud-Simon Petit Chablis (390 rubles, $11.81), we skimmed the concise menu finding it hard to choose from the delights on offer but choose we did.

For starters, a Greek salad (320 rubles, $9.69) seemed like a good way to find out what the kitchen was capable of, requiring as it does a certain amount of restraint and the highest quality ingredients to make it sing. What arrived was a wide and shallow black bowl filled with a mix of greens, roasted peppers and tomatoes with an herb-covered slab of rustic feta. To keep the salad from being over dressed or wilting, the sauce was presented in a footed shot glass. While not strictly traditional in flavor it was, however, delicious.

The next appetizer to emerge from the kitchen was a roasted beetroot carpaccio with a house-made cheese (290 rubles, $8.78). Expecting a pinwheel of crimson discs on a plate, it was a pleasant surprise to be presented with five slices of beetroot folded around a creamily delicious cheese perched atop a bed of arugula and tomatoes. Presented on a wooden cutting board covered with a piece of butchers paper, the beets were slightly charred and perfectly complimented by the creamy cheese and a tiny dash of fresh horseradish topping each Agnolotti-shaped bite.

For mains we selected for lamb chops (850 rubles, $25.75) and a steamed sea bass (640 rubles, $19.39). The fish apparently changes with what is available in the market but we were pleased with the bass, which was the platonic idea of clean simplicity, steamed in a banana leaf and served a slightly spicy Thai tomato sauce. The lamb arrived atop a trio red and yellow roasted peppers and was perfectly rosy on the inside and crusted with a blend of spices that included black pepper, garlic and coriander. The lamb was accompanied by two violently colored sauces one red and one green which suited the meat perfectly. A plate of grilled vegetables (240 rubles, $7.27) that included tiny new potatoes, peppers and eggplant were cooked to perfection and provided just enough of a side to share.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

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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