Modern Menu With a Nostalgic Twist

Arkady Novikov on how he features the best childhood tastes in his restaurant

By Federal Agency for Tourism

Arkadiy Novikov (21st Century) by Arkadiy NovikovFederal Agency for Tourism

The Wind of Change

Restaurateur Arkady Novikov explores three trends on Russia’s contemporary dining scene. Brand cafes or chic restaurants are joined by the culinary Novikov School, the Novikov TV media project and Kombinat Pitaniya by Novikov that offers new corporate food schemes.

Arkady spoke to us about the trends that have captured the Russian dining scene in recent years. Arkady Novikov is a famous Russian restaurateur and owner of Novikov Group that comprises 80 successful dining projects.

Arkady Novikov is a famous Russian restaurateur and owner of Novikov Group that comprises 80 successful dining projects.

Ceviche (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

New Trends in Russia’s Dining

The West has had a huge impact on Russian food culture. Since we started travelling abroad more, we have been copying western culture. Just ten years ago, no one in Russia had heard about ceviche or poke.

Today, just about any restaurant has them on the menu. Local food is now on a completely different level, too.

Bot Flower A2 (1864)LIFE Photo Collection

Farm-to-table produce, locally cultivated celery, vegetables or berries are something that the food business now considers a matter of prestige. Today, Russia is witnessing numerous food trends, and I will cover the most important ones.

Sauerkraut (21st Century) by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism

Trend 1: Fermentation

Russia has always produced pickles, fermented and marinated products through fermentation. This is one of Russia’s oldest winter food preservation techniques. 

Fermented products, which are rich in probiotics and good for health, have now been gaining in popularity on the back of widespread concern with a healthy lifestyle.

Watermelon being sold in the Food Market (2016) by Gustavo Otero | Colection Museum of TomorrowMuseu do Amanhã

Chefs have space to experiment with flavours and textures of dishes. Even the simplest vegetables and fruit that used to be served only fresh can now be tried in a new way. Menus have been including dishes with fermented potato puree, asparagus, lemon, pineapple and even watermelon.

Fermented food platter (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

At YOKO, for example, we serve soup with chicken and pickled bamboo. Take marinated artichokes, for example: we will grill them and serve them as an hors d'oeuvre or add to spaghetti or pizza.  

Original Pozharsky cutlet (21st Century) by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism

Many chefs make their own versions of fermented drinks and sauces. All this signals out a restaurant as a quality establishment. 

Carpaccio (21st Century) by photo by Aleksander AverinFederal Agency for Tourism

Or, say, berries. They used to be made into jams or desserts. Today, fermented berries may accompany a fish carpaccio.  

Meat corner (21st Century) by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism

Trend 2: Local Products

A restaurant running on farm products is a trend that has persisted for several years. Sanctions, which were imposed in 2014, gave a major boost to the development of the food industry, shifting restaurants’ focus to local producers. 

Meat corner (21st Century) by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism

Our Ryby Net project is one of Russia’s first meat restaurants that uses only domestic beef for steaks.

Cheese (21st Century) by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism

Many have started farming food. We thought at one time that it would be good to have our own cheese factory. 

The child in front of a showcase (21st Century) by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism

With a cheese factory comes a dedicated restaurant. This is the origin story of one of our most successful projects that has since expanded into a chain called Syrovarnya.

Farm cheese with honey (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Russians have learnt to make excellent cheese using Italian technology to produce burrata, mozzarella, stracciatella and parmesan.

It means that even in traditional Italian restaurants some ingredients may be substituted with no detriment to the taste or quality of food.  

Red wine (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Wine lists have changed, too. If it was an uphill struggle to make out a Russian variety from a plethora of French or Italian classics; today, almost any reputable establishment will have Russia-produced wines on the menu. 

Berry pie by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Trend 3: Comfort Food

Comfort food has been trending for several years now. One of the major trends in contemporary cuisine has been simple dishes anyone remembers from childhood.

Despite the fine dining and culinary inventions of contemporary chefs, people still want to have a bit of simple and filling home-made meals. 

Squash Caviar by Proximity RussiaFederal Agency for Tourism

I’m fond of Soviet era-style food, such as soups, pirogi pies, sprat, chicken tapaca, bread, and cabbage salad. I believe that Moscow’s greatest dish today is the goby bruschetta served at our Magadan restaurant.

Pozharsky cutlet (21st Century) by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism

More likes on my Instagram account are for cutlets and fried liver rather than expensive haute cuisine.

Visitors (21st Century) by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism

With comfort food running high, Russia has seen a sea change for the entire food market with more food courts and food halls popping up to bring together different cafes that offer high-quality, delicious and affordable food. 

Vinaigrette with herring by Dinara GimaldinovaFederal Agency for Tourism

Critics used to be perplexed by our decision to serve cutlets and Russian vinaigrette, but this is exactly the kind of food served all over Moscow nowadays because everyone loves it. 

Forshmak by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

A typical product like cauliflower has been a regular at almost every restaurant recently. It is used in carpaccios, steaks, mousses, purees and served as a stand-alone dish with various sauces. 

Credits: Story

Сhief Сonsultant — Ekaterina Drozdova, restaurateur, gastronomic entrepreneur, food and social activist, Contributors — Arkady Novikov, Proximity Russia, Denis Yershov, tm agency

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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