Cococo

Although we were only in St. Petersburg for a few nights we managed to squeeze in Russian, Azeri and Armenian dining experiences. Probably the fanciest and most memorable was Cococo. Located in a hotel and owned by Sergey Shnurov, aka “Shnur” of the famed ska-punk band Leningrad, this is reputedly the best restaurant in town.

Here’s the view from our table back towards the bar.

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And looking in the other direction we could see the kitchen, behind this richly decorated sliding door.

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Our dining companion went à la carte, while my wife and I took the “classics” tasting menu.

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First up, salmon ice cream. Very smooth and creamy, and very salmony. I could have eaten a much larger one (the scoop was barely a mouthful).

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A little tart filled with cottage cheese, mackerel and baked beetroot. Russians really seem to like beetroot and use it a lot (as you will soon see). The cream on top is made from peas, if I recall correctly. Behind it is a cream-filled “buckwheat nut”.

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As at White Rabbit, the bread and butter was served as its own separate course.

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Here’s the butter. Can you guess what the red dust on top is? Beetroot, of course.

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Roast beetroot salad with Circassia cheese. Our friend had this as her starter on her shorter menu, and we were a little surprised to be given the same size portion as her. It was lovely, but perhaps half this size would have been enough considering that it’s part of lengthy tasting menu.

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Mushroom consommé, wild boar dumplings, smoked sour cream. Dumplings are another Russian staple and the sour cream set off the gamey flavour nicely.

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Fun presentation of the next dish. Of the two choices we snubbed the cod and went for the more rustic-sounding buckwheat porridge with porcini mushrooms and stewed beef cheeks. The axe at right is actually a piece of moulded and dyed butter on a stick, which you use to stir the porridge until the butter melts.

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Pre-dessert: sugared cranberries.

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Not our dessert; our friend saw a photo of this on the website and booked the table almost on that basis alone (plus a colleague’s recommendation). Yes, it’s supposed to be broken, and it’s made of chocolate and the whole thing is edible (except the wooden board underneath, I think).

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With our menu we got “cococorn”, which is a pot of small scoops of popcorn-flavoured ice cream.

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Followed by a tea-flavoured jelly shaped like a rooster.

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Pretty impressive overall, and at around €40 for the whole menu, amazing value.

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