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||Contact:|
|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|
|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|
|Do you own this business?|
Average User Rating
3.3 / 5
- 5 star:6
- 4 star:1
- 3 star:0
- 2 star:1
- 1 star:4
It is pretty obvious that a restaurant like this will be quite expensive. Looking for a cheap restaurant in Knightsbridge seems like a "mission impossible". The food definitely matches the price and staff there is always being friendly and helpful.
I thoroughly enjoyed this restaurant. 7/10
Tucked away between the tall buildings in Knightsbridge there is a small restaurant called Mari Vanna.
Instantly when you walk in there is a walk homely feeling, where the the restaurant is reminiscent of popping around to your grandma's house. Russian memorabilia everywhere from tea cosy's and small Russian dolls to hanging colorful drapes.
The food is for me a 7/10. My girlfriend said this was the best meal she'd ever had.
You're provided with a selection of complimentary bread and garlic butter initially when you sit down served on a slab of slate which is a nice touch.
The starters are all very delicious. It is very traditional Russian food (lots of carbs, meat). I would suggest getting some 'Pirogi' to start with. They're like small tasty pasties. You can't go wrong with this.
As a main course I had Sturgeon, sitting on top of a bed of creamed mashed potatoes garnished with Caviar. Hands down one of the nicest dishes of fish i'd ever had in my life. The caviar is exceptional and the portions are somewhat generous.
Deserts are all very appetizing and attractive, you can choose from a Souffle, cheesecake and crepes (these are your best options). The Chocolate Souffle is one of the best I'd ever eaten. To then find out it was gluten free was very surprising as it was very flavorful.
All in all I'd give this a 7/10
The wine is overpriced but the restaurant's appearance and atmosphere is great. Food is very tasty. If you've never had Russian before this is a great restaurant to start with.
What a great restaurant! Hiding from the chilly wind, this place makes feels warm, cosy and at home. I must say, the food since the opening has gotten better and better.... the Olivier salad with 'doktorskiy' sausage was just splendid, topped off with chicken soup and some kotleti - made an excellent lunch... The traditional Russian sweets in the drawer by your table made an excellent touch. Hope to come there again. ++ Very attentive staff
At first glance, the dining area seems rather cluttered but then it strangely grows on you and suddenly seems right. The restaurant is decorated as some suburban Imperial Russian "dacha" countryside house with vintage furniture. Almost, like a Russian grandmother's living room adorned with pictures of Russian leaders, vases, flowery patterns and shelves with Samavars - tea urns.
As I glanced at their menu, I was a bit sceptical as to what salad to order as I'm not a fan of all those potato mayonnaise combinations in Russian salads so I opted for their Home Style Vegetarian Salad (£9.00) with Olive Oil dressing on the side - a basic salad of crispy colourful ingredients.
For mains, their traditional Russian “blinis” with Lightly Salted Salmon (£18.00) were more like crepes than blinis but nonetheless arrived warm and were freshly made.
Accompanied with this, were the Ukranian Dumplings with potato and mushroom filling (£14.00) which reminded me of good home-made Gnocchi.The highlight of the meal which stole my heart was their Khachapuri bread (£15.00) - their beloved bread of Georgia made with an unusual cheese called Sulguni.
For dessert, I had their Honey cake. This typically Russian cake is sure to leave you speechless – a wonderfully soft cake made with several thin layers of sponge that is filled with a combination of honey and cream.
At the end of the meal, the bill is brought in a Palekh jewelry box; a famous Russian craft exclusively created by the artists of the village of Palekh – a rather quirky touch.
Mari Vanna has other branches in St Petersburg, Moscow and New York. It is very much frequented by the Russian clientele in London which I suppose is a testament to the authenticity for their pricey menu. However, portions are generous and service is efficient. It was packed on a weekday so I suggest booking in advance. This place has a bizarre charm about it. For a different eating experience, why not travel back in time for one night in the old Soviet Union.
It is the worst restaurant I have ever been in london. The food was awful and the staff very rude. The waiter was standing next to us the whole evening. He took my plate without asking me if I finished. There are so many amazing restaurants in London. There is no reason to go to Mari Vanna.
If I could give this place 0 stars I would. Went there last weekend. The food is shockingly bad - I was unable to finish my main which was a mixture of cabbage and pork that had been boiled until it tasted like bark. The "most delicious" thing on the menu (according to the bored looking waiting staff) was basically cheese on toast. The decor was stiff and made for a very formal atmosphere and the tables were incredibly close to each other, so that I kept having to move my seat to allow other people to pass behind me. Other people's seats touched the backs of the seats on neighbouring tables. The salt in the wound was the bill at the end - insultingly expensive for one of the worst meals I've ever had in London. There is no reason for anyone to go to this place - if you want to drop £80-100 per head then head then London has plenty of restaurants that put this place in the shade.
Go, if just to see a restaurant that is a museum and nothing else. Pretty people in a pretty place, with pretty poor food. Bob Bob Ricards Russian food is much better, and cheaper.
Sickeningly expensive, in Knightsbridge or not. Food okay, but not worth money. Would expect Michelin star for those prices, but unfortunately nowhere near level. Beautiful interior, amazing attention to detail, but no atmosphere. Staff attentive and friendly, but quite corporate and rehearsed. I think this restaurant is for people who don't know what to do with their money and think how a place looks is all that is important.
I had dinner with my wife in this place. The starter was OK but the main was DISGUSTING. I ordered a chicken Kiev which is supposed to be one of the flagship dishes of the Russian cuisine.
The chicken was undercooked ,dry and clearly cooked from frozen . We called the waiter to complain and he admitted himself that it was frozen. Instead of taking my complaint as constructive feedback and remove the chicken from the bill they took it as a personal offence saying that we must have sophisticated tastes!!
For the quality of the food we got and the rude staff we won't come back to this place.