Food and beverage
Traditional main meal in Russia consists of three courses. The first course is usually a rich meat soup with vegetables and barley, the second course - fish or meat with garnish (rice, buckwheat, potatoes, pasta, stewed cabbage), the third course - a drink (various fruit drinks and juices). In Russia people eat a lot of rye and white bread and it is served in restaurants in plenty. Many dishes, for instance borsch (red beet and cabbage soup) served with sour cream or solyanka (assorted meat soup) have a rich taste resulting from a wide variety of the ingredients used. You really must try it at least once! Mayonnaise produced in Russia is praised even by frenchmen and the classic salad "Olivie", internationally known as the "Russian" salad, contains many more ingredients than its European version. Pickled cucumbers together with caviar are considered a snack that goes best with vodka.
If you go to a Russian restaurant you must really try at least one of the following traditional Russian dishes: borsch or solyanka, sturgeon kebab, trout or salmon, pancakes with black and red caviar. You can get quite a good idea of what traditional and original Russian food is like in Moscow restaurants "Godunov" and "Krasnaya ploschad" (Red Square). Special menus in these restaurants offer dishes like fish stewed in cream with mushrooms or beef stew in a pot with prunes and sour cream and mushroom sauce. All the dishes stewed in a pot are delicious!
All seaside Russian cities (in the north - Murmansk, in the south - Sochi and in the Far East - Khabarovsk and Vladivostok) are famous for their seafood. We recommend squids, lobsters and shrimps. It is quite inexpensive. Connoisseurs of French, Italian or Chilean wines have to be ready to settle for good wine from the south of Russia, Kuban since a glass of inexpensive imported wine in a Russian restaurant can cost as much as two bottles of the same wine in Europe.
In Moscow the most convenient part of the city to have lunch or dinner is the center. You can dine after a walk on Arbat Street, Tverskaya Street or after sightseeing tour in Kremlin. During the daytime the restaurants are not very crowded. Lunch might cost as much as $15 per person while an unpretentious business lunch with 3-4 courses just $6. A meal at a restaurant in the evening will cost you $20 per person without alcohol, while at the best Moscow restaurant dinner will cost at least twice as much. If you want to eat fast and inexpensive you can try one of the restaurants of the "Yolki-palki" chain. It is spacious and the waiters are very efficient. For those who can't live without hotdogs and beer, French fries, and steak there are many fast food restaurants all over Russia.
Vodka is the national drink, which is always ordered in grams (50 or 100 per drink) and usually served pure, non-chilled. You may also buy bottles of vodka in stores. Vodka that is sold on the street is usually of bad quality or simply diluted industrial alcohol. Some reliable brands are Crystal, Moskovskaya, Absolute (Swedish though), Stolitschnaja Export, and Kremlievskaja, and new brands, such as Russkiy Standard and Putinka. At dinners, vodka is usually served before dinner starts and usually drunk in rounds. Be prepared to give a toast on your host's hospitality, on your friendship relations, business success etc., if you are invited by friends at home or in a restaurant.