Sunday, March 08, 2009

Welcome to St Petersburg

When Nikki and I got together with 10 strangers to start the Chorlton Chapters book club on March 16, 2006, the group always said we wanted it to be about more than just books. That we wanted, maybe, to do book-related social activities like visiting Brontë country, or some writer's birthplace, but also to do regular non-bookish socialising like meals out.

Since then, various members of the group have held house parties, and the club has gone from strength to strength, recently welcoming its 80th member, but we've never had that formal, traditional night out. Until last night.

Meeting in the Lass O' Gowrie from 6.30pm, nineteen of us made our way eventually to the St. Petersburg restaurant on Sackville Street - literally across the road from my old seat of learning, UMIST. We'd booked for the Boyar's Banquet, and although the cold appetisers were not, actually, on the table when we arrived they did follow shortly afterwards.

As did the floor show. A girl with a very short skirt and very sturdy legs, who proceeded to throw herself about on a pair of poles and later, replace them with a pair of small platforms and bend herself double, backwards, to pluck a rose from the stage with her teeth. Damned flexible those Russians.

It's hard to pick out anything from that menu for special praise because it was all delicious. If pressed I'd have to say I particularly enjoyed the potato salad; the "Cold Water Prawns Served In A Fresh Orange & Topped With Special Cognac Cream Dressing" which really did come in a scooped-out orange, was deliciously cold and extremely tasty; and finally the Gribnaya which although it doesn't sound especially appetising when you read about it ("sliced mushrooms sautéed with fresh cream and onion & crowned with cheese"), and neither does it look much, just sitting there all small and alone in the cold white porcelain desert of its own large plate, is actually delicious.

The evening was a riot of excellent conversation, superb food, interesting entertainment and fine wine. At Richard (the organiser)'s suggestion, we topped the meal off with one of St Petersburg's massive collection of flavoured vodkas. This provoked a deal of head scratching and angst, as the menu is considerably larger and more varied than the stock (the barmaid pointed out a tiny disclaimer to this effect at the top of the menu) resulting in several people having to make more than one choice before they found one that was, in fact, available.

Nevertheless the resulting tray of shots did look impressively varied and colourful, and we just had time to down ours before the disco kicked in and we beat a hasty retreat from the establishment, not wishing to embarrass ourselves with a display of "Dad" (and maybe even "Mum") dancing in the presence of the young 'uns.

After such a stimulating evening we were wired, and ended up staying up until 1am after we got home. Maybe we should have stayed for the dancing after all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review John - been thinking of giving this place a go.

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