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November 2, 2012updated Feb 13, 2013

Top London Restaurant: Mari Vanna

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

London, UK – Reported by Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyle magazine

Prince William celebrated his 30th birthday at this beautifully eccentric Russian restaurant in Knightsbridge. Despite a prime position between London’s most expensive property—One Hyde Park—and London’s most expensive hotel—the Bulgari—Mari Vanna eschews the haute cuisine you’d expect, and instead champions simple, traditional Russian fare. The results are delicious, and the décor is a triumph of kooky Russian kitsch.

Mari Vanna is a mythical Russian matriarch (‘Granny Vanna’), who has already lent her name to restaurants in St Petersburg, Moscow and New York. Opening in London earlier this year, she continues to charm the world’s elite with ‘home‐cooked’ meals in a place that makes you misty-eyed for the Russian granny you never had. Every square inch is adorned with ornate crockery, matryoshka dolls, St Petersburg crystal, lamps draped with shawls, Lenin pins, antique boxing gloves, an old accordion and all manner of other curios and tchotchke (trinkets). One wall resembles an apothecary, with huge jars of vodka stuffed with eye-catching infusions—cucumber and dill, coffee, horseradish and cherries among them. Even the lavatories are part of the show, with piped recordings of Russian music and fairy tales.

The menu offers Russian ‘babushka cooking’, with influences from former Soviet countries like Georgia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Expect warming comfort food like Borsch with Pampushka (a Russian beetroot soup with smoked beef), Harcho (a rich Georgian lamb soup with rice and spicy adjika sauce), Pelmeni (Siberian veal dumplings with a herb sauce) and Ukrainian Galubtzi (meat and rice encased in cabbage leaves). This is balanced with salads and lighter dishes with plenty of fresh herbs.

Mari Vanna is open for lunch, tea and dinner from 12pm to 12am, seven days a week. The Late lounge bar opens Sunday to Thursday until 1am, Friday and Saturday until 1.30am. The Private Room can be booked for up to 30 guests.

Phone: +44 (0) 207 225 3122
Address: Wellington Court, 116 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7PJ, UK

See more top London restaurants in the Elite Guide to London

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