Food | Need To Now

Babushkas, blinis and borsch on New Year’s Eve

Toast 2013 in a Russian wonderland – Knightsbridge’s Mari Vanna

Babushkas, blinis and borsch on New Year’s Eve

December 17 2012
Nicole Swengley

Few know how to party in winter like the Russians. So, it’s not surprising that one of London’s most chic and cosy seasonal gems is the Russian teahouse Mari Vanna, which set up shop in Knightsbridge earlier this year.

For its first Christmas in the capital, the restaurant has followed the lead of its siblings in St Petersburg and Moscow, and has decked out its beautiful interiors in traditional Russian winter style. A folkloric Father Frost and his snow maiden Snegurochka have gifts for guests, while Christmas trees are brightened with trinkets, tchotchke (baubles), candles and toys. Around the room, fireplaces and stairs are hung with festive garlands, chandeliers twinkle, heroes of Russian literature jostle for supremacy on the bookshelves, and brightly painted matryoshkas, babushkas and toy bears decorate every nook and cranny. Add to this the sumptuous Russian cuisine, and visitors cannot but be transported into another world.

On New Year’s Eve Mari Vanna will serve traditional dishes from its à la carte menu until 4pm, and from 6pm the fun begins. Guests can choose from two special celebratory menus (£105 or £150 per person; £145 and £195 if booked after Thursday December 20). Starters include selyodka pod shuboy (herring in a fur coat), kholodets (jellied meat), borsch and blinis. Main courses include duck breast in a cowberry sauce, and pan-fried sturgeon with potato and beetroot galette. For dessert there is a choice between dishes such as Napoleon (layers of puff pastry with cream and fresh berries) and medovnik (honey cake).

And what would a Russian meal be without a high-octane knees up? With entertainment by a live folk band, DJ and magician, it’ll be energetic to say the least.  Za vashe zdorvye!