Russians struggle to overcome their Soviet past in many areas, and the atrocious “Soviet cuisine” is one of the indispensable components of this haunting past. Arguably, three major ingredients of the Red cuisine are mayonnaise, spam, and cheap alcohol. With few exceptions, every restaurant in contemporary Russia, no matter the price range, tries to poison you with these three key ingredients. If you are a vegetarian or a vegan, God help you.. Spam and mayo are out of the question. So what is left to sustain you? This is a rhetorical question.
But the question still stands: is there any restaurant or a chain of restaurants in this town that serves decent vegetarian food? Ashby Gaines has found the answer: the Troitsky Bridge chain of vegetarian restaurants. In addition to serving an amazing variety of Russian and European vegetarian dishes, the restaurant is very moderately priced. And I agree with Ashby their vegetable lasagna is the best! Actually, I would like to confess that after I’ve visited the Troitsky Bridge restaurant twice in one day (the second time with my wife Lena), I’m seriously thinking of becoming a vegetarian.
Meanwhile I became friends with the waitress Zarina who told me a brief history of the chain. In 1995 the founder, Tatyana Kurbatova, went to India where she learned about vegetarian diets of this part of the world. This trip inspired her to create a restaurant that offered vegetarian dishes. It has been sixteen years since the first restaurant has opened.
And yes, how to say “vegan” in Russian? Next to many dishes on the Troitsky Bridge restaurant menu stands a Russian letter P. I asked a waitress what it meant and she explained to me that it meant “postnyi” — a Russian word for a dish prepared without any animal-derived ingredients. While the modifier “postnyi” in Russian has religious connotation: “Lent-diet related,” it is close to “vegan” in terms of what type of diet it implies. Ashby, thank you for showing me the place. And, Ashby, Caitlin, Megan, Monika, and Sophie, thank you for convincing me to visit this restaurant 🙂