While diehard soccer fans cheer on their national team from the stands at this year’s World Cup, the rest of St. Petersburg is out celebrating the weather. June marks the peak of the White Nights, when the sun sets after 10 p.m. and the city seems to be perpetually bathed in light.
For a peek at the Venice of the North, we spoke to Alena Melnikova, managing partner of fine dining restaurant The Repa and the founder of Gourmet Days, a food festival in St. Petersburg.
"St. Petersburg compared to Moscow is like L.A. compared to New York. We have a lot of creative people; we have a lot of musicians; we have a lot of people who are involved in art. St. Petersburg has less money than Moscow, and that’s why our food scene is more interesting, contemporary, and inexpensive.
St. Petersburg is a vibrant gastronomic destination. What you need to understand about Russian cuisine is that Russia is a multinational country. We have different types of cuisines—for example, Siberian or Ukrainian or Belarusian or Georgian—but it’s all named Russian cuisine. We developed three different types: village cuisine, which is more soups and porridges; imperial cuisine, which is often long dinners with sturgeon; and Soviet cuisine.
A lot of visitors come to St. Petersburg to see the White Nights. White Nights is a period starting in May until the middle of July. At night, you have only one or two hours of darkness; the rest of the time, the sky will be white, so it feels like morning. Lots of people go walking. Sometimes people go sailing in the rivers and the canals.
St. Petersburg is a fantastic city with a rich cultural background. I really think that it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, like Paris, Florence, or Barcelona. You will never see another city like it because in this city, you’ve got a lot of cultures of different nations, of different generations, and from different parts of the world. It makes this city really special."
Hamlet & Jacks
Volynskiy Pereulok, 2, Saint Petersburg
Mon-Thu, Sun: 1 p.m.-12:30 a.m.; Fri-Sat: 1 p.m.-2 a.m.
Pochtamtskaya Ulitsa, 3, Saint Petersburg
Mon-Sun: 12 p.m.-1 a.m.
Naberezhnaya Kryukova Kanala, 10, Saint Petersburg
Mon-Fri: 5 p.m.- 1 a.m.; Sat-Sun: 2 p.m.-1 a.m.
Vilenskiy Pereulok, 15, Saint Petersburg
Mon-Thu, Sun: 1 p.m.-12 a.m.; Fri-Sat: 1 p.m.-1 a.m.
Sadovaya St, 12, Saint Petersburg
Mon-Sun: 12 p.m.-1 a.m.