Russian gastronomic progression can be marked by the fanciness of the token salad arranged on each plate. It’s a traditional, earthly cuisine that needs no modernization. So while Matrёshka’s plates come decorated like a bad Kandinsky, the food is of a classic quality that will make even the most homesick Russian feel at ease. It’s a step ahead of Red Square, the other Russian spot that opened recently in the 1933 complex.
Aside from a bottle of Beluga vodka (RMB2,350) it’s hard to spend money at this place. Virtually everything is less than RMB50 with the whole Eastern Bloc covered by an almost overwhelming menu.
Their star appetizer is a plate of smoked salmon blini (RMB27). They present an odd juxtaposition of sweet pancakes and salty fish and are curious if not moreish. More pleasing is a huge plate of marinated mushrooms (RMB20), cucumbers (RMB15) and an extraordinarily tasty creamed Parmesan-stuffed tomato(RMB25).
The classic salad Oliver (RMB30) and borsht soup (RMB38) are no sweat for what is clearly an accomplished chef in the kitchen. With authentic ingredients in abundance, they both make Red Square’s taste like poor Chinese relations.
Mains are heavily meat based, served alongside potato ‘garnishes’ such as spicy wedges or potato pancakes (an extra RMB15). Ranging from cabbage-wrapped meat golubtsy (RMB35) to Siberian pork and beef pelmeni dumplings (RMB38), the closest you’ll get to a vegetable is the meat-stuffed peppers (RMB35).
They’re all excellent and incredibly filling but take the waiter’s winter recommendation and get a plate of captains’ meat (RMB38) for the road. It’s a pork chop loaded with cheese and layered with potato. Finish all this and they’ll be rolling you down the stairs like a Matrëshka doll.
- 65 Shimen Er Lu, [map]
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