THE DISH: Sky Terrace

THE DISH: Sky Terrace

Sky Terrace//9 Ulitsa Lva Tolstogo//Tel. 939 8222//Open from noon to midnight//(to 3 a.m. on weekends)//Menu in English and Russian//Dinner for two with wine 3010 rubles ($97)

Published: October 3, 2012 (Issue # 1729)

Reach for the Sky

Once again the benefits of St. Petersburg’s low, flat horizon have yielded another excellent rooftop restaurant, this one a stone’s throw from Petrogradskaya metro station, perched atop the Tolstoi shopping mall.

Despite a general thumbs up, the restaurant started on a bad foot: Getting in is something of a brainteaser. On entering the shopping mall, it’s a poorly-signposted struggle to find the right lift to take you to the terrace on the top floor, and the signposting doesn’t improve from there. You simply emerge with passageways leading left and right, and it only later becomes apparent that they lead to three different dining rooms and two separate outdoor terraces. Here, you’re left to your own devices to find a room with a waiter or waitress in it ready to serve you.

On a recent visit on a Monday night, there was no shortage of free tables, and after we seated ourselves at one, a waiter did eventually appear. It was to our relief that things began to dramatically improve — the waiter proved to be an excellent and informed host.

We started by sharing a selection of Italian sausage cuts (650 rubles, $21) and a mozzarella pizza (280 rubles, $9), which proved a good combination. The large plate of sausages was well presented and more than enough for two, while the pizza easily ranked among the best to be found on the Petrograd Side, up there with the two Italian powerhouses of Bolshoi Prospekt: Capuletti and the underrated Italy Zapad in the Apriori shopping center. The mozzarella had an excellent tang to it that went well together with the liberal helpings of sausage that we topped it with.

We followed this with a leg of duck (550 rubles, $18) and a grilled beefsteak with mushrooms (850 rubles, $27), the waiter making an excellent recommendation that we accompany this with a Baron Philippe de Rothschild red (380 rubles, $12 a glass).

The duck came with pear, mashed potato and stewed cabbage, the only minor quibble being with the cabbage, which had been overdone and reduced to a paste, although the actual tartness of its taste was appreciated. There were no complaints about the duck itself, however, which was a perfectly cooked, melt-in-the-mouth delight with just enough crunch to the skin.

The steak was also superb, cooked to an immaculate medium-rare. Even true Petrograd Side patriots such as this reviewer will admit that you have to head across to the continent for a decent steak, but Sky Terrace’s effort has brought an end to those culinary Dark Ages. As well as being wonderfully tender, like the duck it was unfussily but elegantly presented, with a good selection of grilled vegetables that complemented the meat perfectly.

The food, then, was a success. The restaurant’s interior, the work of one of Petersburg’s long-standing design aficionados, Mikhail Orlov, risks being accused of being on the minimalist, even gloomy side, with dark woods and beige, brown and green tones. None of this stands out, nor is it meant to: The understatement of the interior means no distractions from the view through the huge windows that stretch the length of the walls. As rooftop restaurant views go in St. Petersburg, this one is a cracker, and Sky Terrace is to be commended for making the most of it.

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