Having eaten at Mari Vanna in Moscow I was genuinely excited to hear that they were opening in London. The fourth restaurant of the same name, others being in New York and St Petersburg.
Mari Vanna is one of the 106 restaurants owned by the Ginza Project, a company incorporated in Russia in 2003 and taken over the service industry by storm. This is their first London outpost, and one they definitely haven't taken on lightly.
The prestigious neighbourhood address and the front door adorned with countless bells and locks which can only be opened from the inside are just some of the similarities with its sister in Moscow. Mari Vanna London however, takes the interior design to a whole new level. This time it is not 'just' my grandmas house, this time it is my oligarch grandmas house. The attention to detail is remarkable, from colossal chandeliers hanging from rosette covered ceilings, to the traditional 'Khokhloma' serving spoons and 'Gzhel' wallpaper in bathrooms. I was taken back to my childhood with this intricate yet personal design.The food delivered on all fronts of a home cooked meal starting with rye bread served with herby butter, radish, spring onion and salt. Putting all the ingredients together in one bite, really sets up the atmosphere of what was to come next.
|Down stairs lounge for tea and drinks|
The menu is full of homey Russian dishes, including cold starters, hot starters, soups and desserts. Mari Vanna infuse their own Vodka and we opted for a shot of horse radish each. At £10 a shot this is not the cheapest, however it adds a nice punch to the meal and was perfectly served with pickles and at -18C.
The food was full of mixed emotions, starting with 'wow' it's just so tasty to 'omg' they charge £16 for a pair of chicken rissoles with some mashed potato? But prices aside, we went for a selection of dishes.
|Pirozhok with meat £2.50, and chicken soup £8|
The home made chicken soup really warmed the soul with rich chicken stock, while the Pirozhok (little parcel of dough filled with meat or cabbage) was soft and full of hearty flavour. Just enough sweetness in the dough to compliment the meat inside. A perfect accompaniment.
|Horse radish vodka £10|
|From far: herring with potatoes £9, sauerkraut £6, siberian pelmeni £9, chicken fritters (rissoles) with creamy mash potatoes £16|
The Chicken Fritters served with mash is some what of a classic meal for me, and one that brings back memories from a weekday after school dinner. The flavours and seasonings were all there but I have had better fritters (rissoles) back in Russia, and it was sertainly not worth £16. The Herring with Potatoes, sauerkraut and the Siberian Pelmeni also all hit the spot. It was all very good I have to say. Hearty and satisfying.
The major 'wow' factor was definitely the Honey cake dessert. Really I cannot say enough about it. Layers, oozing with sweet sweet sponge and honey flavours. I have a craving just writing about it. Please don't go home without having some! No, really I mean it.
|Honey Cake £9|
Like I said in my Moscow post, if you don't have a Russian grandmother to cook these dishes for you, then Mari Vanna is a good start. The price of £55 p.p including tip was not that much cheaper than what I paid in Moscow. This is surprising considering that most things in Moscow are hiked up through the roof. Mind you, we did have a LOT of food served at Knightsbride prices. On a different occasion it will probably not be necesary to order this much.
The service was sensational, very attentive and friendly. They were also kind enough to bring out two shots of Vodka on the house while we finished our tea downstairs.
I will defnitely be back to Mari Vanna. One day I might even be lucky enough to receive a key so I can open that door from the front.