Punkt Pitaniya // 5 Bolshoi Prospekt, Vasilyevsky Island // Tel: 329 9550 // Open 8.30 a.m. to 11 p.m. // Menu in Russian and English // Lunch for two without alcohol 1,800 rubles ($64)
Published: June 29, 2011 (Issue # 1663)
Punkt Pitaniya — literally “Feeding Point” — despite the utilitarian, no-nonsense name, is clearly pitching itself as something of a French bistro or cafe, with its brown ceramic tiled floor, its tiny outdoor tables for people-watching, its small mirrors fitted into the white wooden paneling running around the walls, its artworks, the piano and its Francophone soundtrack. The results, however, are mixed, with some nice touches ruined by slapdash service and food that is heavy on the oil. These may be teething problems as the recently opened cafe gets into the swing of things, but all the same, as yet it would be hard to recommend this eatery.
There are two smallish rooms linked by an arch, with a bistro-style bar at the end of the second. We seated ourselves next to the window, which just about affords a view out onto Bolshoi Prospekt. Despite the French theme, the menu appears to be a hotchpotch of European and Russian dishes. In what would appear to be a move in the right direction, there is, however, a dedicated pate section. The chicken liver pate (180 rubles, $6.40) was excellent, with a nice tang to it, as was the forshmak — herring, sour cream, eggs, onion and breadcrumb, all mixed up together (also 180 rubles). The vegetarian pate (120 rubles, $4.25), was on the slick side of greasy and appeared to simply be made of standard eggplant paste. The mushroom pate, on the other hand, which came as a compliment from the chef, was a tasty morsel.
There were drawbacks to all this, though. Firstly, neither of the vegetarian options were actually on the menu — unfortunate as the menu itself is a barren waste ground for those in search of meat-free dishes. Secondly, the pates were all served with four pieces of fried brown bread. My dining partner found this excessively rich and oily, and even for a committed fried breakfast fan such as this reviewer, as I tucked into my eighth slice I could feel my arteries clogging beyond all repair.
My vegetarian companion went for the gazpacho (200 rubles, $7), although she in fact had little else to choose from. Overloaded with slivers of cucumber and generously sized, it was deemed nothing out of the ordinary. Foxed by the menu, she was then forced to order a chicken Caesar salad without the chicken, and was made to pay the full whack — 330 rubles ($11.80). The lettuce was crisp, but overall the salad was not deemed a great success, tasting suspiciously, and off-puttingly, of fish.
The grilled salmon in teriyaki sauce (400 rubles, $14) was a fine chunk, succulent on the inside with a nice crunch to the skin, but the 150 rubles ($5.30) for the boiled-beyond-all-repair rice that arrived long after the fish was robbery, as was the thimbleful of soy sauce that we asked to go with it and for which we were promptly charged 50 rubles ($1.75).
Overall, then, something of a disaster, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Firstly, in a move that seems to be sweeping across the city (at long last!), Punkt Pitaniya offers breakfasts. And secondly, buy one Americano coffee, and you can sit drinking refills until 5 in the afternoon.
Dining on Vasilyevsky
Restaurants are scattered all over Vasilyevsky Island, from the Spit of the island to the shore of the Gulf of Finland.
This Georgian restaurant located in LenExpo congress center offers mouthwatering khachapuri, as well as a wide range of shashlik, including lamb and veal.
103 Bolshoi Prospekt, Vasilyevsky Island, (LenExpo Pavilion 7). Tel: 920 0450
Although this restaurant’s exterior is a little unimpressive, the menu offers a vast range of European salads and starters, as well as pasta and risotto dishes for very reasonable prices. The desserts are specially prepared by a separate chef.
30A Ulitsa Korablestroitelei. Tel: 305 5816
This restaurant has long been known for excellent French and European cuisine, elegant style and high prices. Its red brick walls and arches and comfortable furniture create an inviting atmosphere. The restaurant is famed for its seafood, but the entire menu maintains a high standard.
1 Tamozhenny Pereulok Tel: 327 8980