During an extended visit to St Petersburg, Russia I made quite the unexpected culinary discovery. I knew about caviar, vodka, Russian champagne, borschtÃ¢Â?Â¦. I did not know St Petersburg is a great place for chocoholics. During the winter of my “non-discontent” I discovered some GREAT places for hot chocolate. And I am not talking about American a-little-chocolate-in-a-lot-of-milk hot chocolate. I am talking about rich, dark, thick hot chocolate. One hot chocolate is sooo thick the spoon literally stands in it! It is more pudding than hot chocolate.
One treat was discovering that all cafes have their own style of hot chocolate. Following are a few cafes in central St Petersburg with delicious types of hot chocolate. Sure, St Petersburg is the cultural capital of Russia with museums, ballet, historical monuments, cathedrals, palaces, gardensÃ¢Â?Â¦ But going to St Petersburg just for the hot chocolate is a worthy pursuit in itself. You can fit in the museums and ballets between trips to the cafes for hot chocolate reveries.
This list is in the order of discovery and not in order of favorites. They are all my favorites! (Just like children!)
Note: If the Cyrillic names do not make it to your screen, the English transliterated name is included with addresses and descriptions. Just look in the windows, you will find your hot chocolate!
1 – Coffee House (Kofe Hauz)
7/9 Nevsky Prospect (One block from Palace Square)
13 Bolshaya Konyushennaya Ul. (Two blocks from Church of Spilled Blood)
Kofe Hauz is a chain of coffee shops, you will see others in the city. There are two types of hot chocolate and one cocoa on the menu. Just so you know, cocoa (spelled cacao) at all the cafes is like wimpy American hot chocolate. If you prefer hot chocolate-lite, this is the way to go. But if you are a chocolate connoisseur do not waste your time and rubles on it. You can have hot chocolate like that at home-with marshmallows.
At Kofe Hauz your choice is between French and Italian hot chocolate. (Or do not choose and have both!) French is thicker and richer. It is like pudding. It is easier to eat with a spoon than sip from the cup. I had it several times and each time the thickness and richness differed. It was inconsistent in consistency, yet always delicious. The Italian hot chocolate is not as thick or rich but very chocolat-y. If death by chocolate does not interest you, go with the Italian hot chocolate. It satisfies the chocolate cravings without spiking your blood sugar.
2 – Vushe Bakery
Between 7 – 9 Malaya Morskaya Ul. (Two blocks from Palace Square)
This is a bakery as well as a cafÃ?Â©. Definitely try some of the excellent bakery items with your hot chocolate. When ordering ask for the “real hot chocolate;” it is listed on the menu board as “real.” Hot cocoa is also sold at this bakery but while in Russia have THE REAL hot chocolate. It is served in a small espresso-like cup; though small in quantity it is big in quality. It is thick liquid, hot, dark chocolate.
3 – City Bar
10 Millionnaya Ul. (Down the street from the Hermitage. Look for the Pepsi-Cola and Orange Crush signs over the windows. There may or may not be a sign on the door)
City Bar is an American style pub owned and operated by an American. If you need a good cup of American hot chocolate just to feel at home, this is the place to go. If you feel the need for good American food as well, there are decent food choices on the menu.
4 – Chashka Coffee
112 Nevsky Prospect (One block from the Mayakovskaya metro station, towards the Obelisk on Nevsky-look for a tan, vertical Kofe sign over the establishment)
This little cafÃ?Â© is like church for a chocoholic. When you order a hot chocolate the server puts part of a chocolate bar in the cup, zaps it in the microwave to soften it, and then blasts it with hot, frothy milk. Perhaps it is not like church but more like skid row; I still crave another fix! This hot chocolate is worth the trip!
5 – Pushkin Inn Restaurant
12 Moika emb. (next to Pushkin Museum, one block from Palace Square)
Pushkin Inn Restaurant serves a very good American-like hot chocolate. It is not the same rich, thick chocolati-ness of the others but if you were drinking it in the States you would claim this is the best hot chocolate around. I mention this restaurant for the hot chocolate but also for the great food. It has a very interesting menu, which includes a combination of traditional and contemporary delicious Russian dishes. Have dinner here and top it off with a hot chocolate.
Get out your city map and plot your route! There are several other cafes, which serve hot chocolate too. Explore and discover them. But I know these five cafes have delicious hot chocolate that will satisfy and warm any chocolate craver on a cold day in St Petersburg. Or on a cold day do as the Russians do, have an ice cream. But that is another storyÃ¢Â?Â¦