In the historical district of the city next to the Kunstkammer there is the Old Custom House Restaurant. Nowadays it is one of the best restaurants but just ten years ago it seemed hardly possible that the decaying building would turn into the culinary center of Saint Petersburg. In the 1990s a half ruined building on Vacilievsky Island was leased out. In the 18-19th centuries the building was used as bonded warehouse, in the 20th it housed the University cantina and joiner's shop. The idea of restoration of the decaying building was quite bold for that time. But some years later thanks to the efforts and enthusiasm of architect Evgeny Prigozhin in the newly restored building the first class restaurant was opened.
During the wide-scaled restoration work under more than one locating of plaster the unique brick vaults of the 18th century were discovered. These vaults in many respects set the style of the future restaurant that recreates the interior of a typical customhouse of Tsar Peter the Great times. Corresponding furniture and details conveying the atmosphere of the 18th century were carefully selected. And even the new wooden floor was artificially made to look older not to clash with the whole interior. Portraits and genre paintings, copies of custom documents of the 18-19th centuries add to the atmosphere of the old custom. Wax figures of customs officials greet the guests.
There is a main hall and three smaller halls: the New Banquet Hall, the Old Banquet Hall and Wine Club. In the Old Banquet Hall, there is a traditional Russian wagon with a delighting choice of cognac. There the guests are invited to smoke a cigar or drink a cup of flavored coffee.
Every detail in the restaurant is thought over to create an ideal setting for a refined dinner. Quite a small number of seats (compared with the territory the restaurant occupies) guarantees the necessary seclusion. Vaulted ceilings and wooden partition with stained-glass windows reflecting the lights create the atmosphere of coziness and warmth. The tables in the center of the hall are illuminated with point lights, the tables in the corners with lamps with green shades.
The guest are offered European menu with French stress. We will simply make some quotes from the menu for you to have the idea of the luxurious dishes offered: Fillets of quail fried in walnut oil, served with deep fried foie gras and fresh vegetables confit in sauterne served with granite of red burgundy wine, Roast sqab pigeon in walnuts butter served with a fondue of leek sauce pasley and garlic confit, Home-smoked salmon log filled with black caviar and prawns, served with spicy cream bavarois and soy sauce, Tournedos Rossini prime fillet of beef on a crouton, topped with foie gras with a demi glace sauce, Tournedos of veal with carrot and basilic sauce and a mille feuille of chanterelles and season vegetables, "Chateaubriand" (for two people) served with forest mushrooms, garden carrots, roast potatoes and accompanied with sauce "bearnaise", etc.
Exquisite European cuisine, award winning French chef, live music and marvelous interiors are the reasons why the restaurant is really worth visiting.