Step back in time, leave the streets of glitzy Knightsbridge and make yourself at home inside Mari Vanna, for some traditional Russian hospitality.
Honestly, I have to say I was a little sceptical about how much I might enjoy Russian cuisine but as ever I love to try everything at least once and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t explore all the edible entertaining options out there, I am certainly glad that I did. The moment you arrive at Mari Vanna (named after a mythical grandmother style figure), the adventure begins, it feels almost like this house, like Dorothy’s in Kansas City has been caught up in a Siberian tornado and dropped off in the heart of Knightsbridge, you start your journey into another world from the door step where nothing is done by half. The memorabilia and nic- nacs practically spill out the door, along with the warmth of the welcomes from the hosts on reception.
As one is welcomed in you can’t help marvel at all the dressing of the restaurant, it absorbing. Once seated at our table the experience of the homeliness continues and our tea dress wearing waitress tell us to make ourselves comfortable and treat the restaurant like home. We oh and ah at all the beautifully over the top ‘grannies’ homemade jams, plates, dolls and doilies practically dripping from every all and nook and cranny. The scene is certainly set for a memorable evening. On to the menu….
The menu is a little overwhelming with a lot of choices, separated to hot and cold but well balance and considered with an array of traditional Russian dishes, along with some less intimidating options with salads and some appetizing fish options. To start we had courgette pancakes with smoked salmon and a home style vegetable salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, radish, spinach, sorrel and sun-dried tomatoes served on vintage looking rose printed china plate.
Both delightfully fresh tasting, simple and had us eager to get on to our main courses of Siberian Pelmeni (dumplings) of minced beef & pork filling, served with sour cream and steamed Halibut fillet with fresh asparagus, in a white wine and ginger sauce. Both dishes, very different, brought something special to the table, the Pelmeni were flavoursome and warming. The Halibut stole the show through with the lightest sauce, most delicate sauce and the fillet cooked to perfection. Unfortunately we didn’t save room for dessert but looking at other peoples choices around the restaurant, we shall be coming back to sample some sweet treats.
We thoroughly enjoyed being transported to another time, country and tradition in at Mari Vanna’s, with warm and friendly service, interesting dishes and homely atmosphere.
Entertaining: Yes, we can see this could work for various occasions (I could imagine organising a baby shower on the lower ground floor). This is an interesting option when booking table for dinner out with friends, adventurous clients, Russians far from home and I would love to take my mother here for some decadent afternoon tea Russian style. For some pre or post dinner drinks check out the bar at The Bulgari Hotel which is just across the road and oozes glamour.
116 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7PJ / 020 7225 3122 / www.marivanna.co.uk / Restaurants in St Petersburg, Moscow and New York.
We ate for £ 55 pp with 2 glasses of wine each. Better value for money – try the lunch set menu 2 courses for £18, 3 courses for £25.
Set menus from £60 – for group dining.