Being the first Russian restaurant in Chennai, and still one of the very few, the Winter Palace, nestled inside the complex of The Russian Cultural Centre, serves authentic Russian food for those eager to try it. Decorated in blue and white, and housing wall and ceiling paintings of winter landscapes, it sets the atmosphere promised by the name.
The food, aptly gives off the satisfaction of hearty and warming meals in winter. The meal was ushered in with a pair of light starters – Vegetarian Stuffed Aubergine rolls filled with walnut, garlic, tomato and cheese. The combination of the cheesy tomato and walnut with the aubergine wrapping was a good beginning for what lay ahead.
Then there was the Fried Chicken Pelmeni, Minced Chicken dumplings which are usually either steamed, or in this case, fried. Crisp and served with a mild dip, this was one of our favourites.
Next arrived the Vegetarian Borsch – a filling soup with the stock of tomato and onion served with cream.
We next had the boiled Beef Pelmeni, a sort of beef ravioli, with a distinct flavour. The meaty flavour went well alternated with the creaminess of a Russian Salad filled with little pieces of chicken, vegetables, eggs and a LOT of Mayonnaise.
The main course consisted of A Chicken a la Kiev – a hearty dish of a marinated chicken chunk stuffed with generous scoops of butter and crusted with a coating of bread crumbs before it is cooked and served with a side of herbed potato cubes. The melted butter that flows out when you cut open this dish makes it a sure winner on the taste buds.
Next on the menu was the Grilled Beef Steak which was well done, tender and juicy, served on a bed of its own flavoured fat and with a side of asparagus, toasted tomato and fried baby potatoes-in-skin.
For the Sweet Tooth
The two main courses warmed us down to our toes (not that you need it in Chennai, but you might in a real Winter palace) and now it was time for Dessert. To satisfy the craving of our sweet tooth, we had the Orekshi – Russian nut biscuits which look like walnuts, with a tart-like shell made with a hot moulding plate filled with reduced milk and sugar, pure caramel and nuts.
Our final dish for the day was the Russian Napolean Cake, a layered flaky and crumbly dessert made with quick puff pastry and layered with custard, condensed and reduced milk.
Russia Away from Russia
‘We learnt the spirit of Russian food from the restaurant’s first Chef Sergey Yaroshinsky,’ says the Chef Shiva. Before he joined The Winter Palace, he was cooking for European cruise lines. ‘Russian food is very similar to many other European cuisines, and so it wasn’t very strange to me when I started the Russian culinary journey.’
The Winter Palace is a home away from home for the Russian guests who attend parties and programs in the Russian Cultural Centre and for Indians who studied in Russia and crave a nostalgic meal.
Read more about the Winter Palace Here.