Mari Vanna

Restaurants , Russian Knightsbridge
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Mari Vanna
© Rob Greig

Judging by the guest list on Mari Vanna’s UK website, the London outpost of this extraordinary Russian restaurant ‘chain’ is as much a destination as the branches in New York, LA and Washington DC (St Petersburg and Moscow boast the Russian originals). A trip here is certainly memorable.

It’s impossible not to gasp at the mirrors and chandeliers, the shelves overflowing with dolls, porcelain, books and knick-knacks, the tapestries both hanging and adorning the tables. During our lunchtime meal, the place was chock-a-block with Russian-speaking diners. The booking procedure may seem Soviet-strict, but the welcome is warm, and service – by beautiful Russian staff – polite and attentive.

It’s the food, however, that might hasten a second visit. You can dine like a peasant or a tsar, but the simplest, relatively affordable options are a delight. From the breads, including coriander-scented rye, via traditional thirst-quenchers such as kvass (like a rye-bread root beer) or birch juice to pirozhki – don’t miss the sea bass version – and lactic-fermented pickles, there wasn’t a discordant note.

Tender beef stroganoff had just the right degree of paprika warmth, and sweet cherry dumplings paired with a shot of cherry-infused vodka proved an ideal end to a memorable meal.


Venue name: Mari Vanna
Address: 116 Knightsbridge
Cross street: Wellington Court
Opening hours: Lunch served noon-3.30pm, tea served 3.30-5pm daily. Dinner served 7-11.30pm Mon-Sat; 7-10.30pm Sun
Transport: Tube: Knightsbridge
Price: Main courses £14-£24. Set lunch (noon-3pm Mon-Fri) £18 2 courses, £25 3 courses. Meal for two with drinks and service: around £120
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