Dine under the Purple Light – Restaurant Gymnasium, St Petersburg Russia

Located in the historical center of St Petersburg, the Restaurant Gymnasium is housed within a former girl’s gymnasium, which is within walking distance from the St. Isaac Cathedral. Although the restaurant is lavishly decorated with lots of chandeliers, plush chairs and sofas, the purple lighting makes the place modern and might seem more suitable for a club rather than a restaurant. However, the juxtaposition of the interior décor and purple lighting sat finely with me.

The restaurant was very quiet on a Friday night, 9pm; there were less than 15 guests in the restaurant.  The service was very prompt and the waitress was quick to take our orders.

Restaurant Gymnasium, St Petersburg Russia - Interior

My friend and I ordered 5 dishes – one salad to share, two soups and two main courses. Unlike the usual international practice of offering complimentary bread, this restaurant charges for its bread.  We were fine with it. The bread rolls were excellent – soft and hot.  I could just eat them with the herbed butter for dinner.

Restaurant Gymnasium Menu

Our first dish, the Caesar salad, did not fare well.  The chef was too generous with the sauce, which drowned the vegetables.  The lettuce was also too soggy – I prefer my vegetables crunchy. On the whole, I found the salad too wet.

Caesar salad

For the soups, we had the Mediterranean Seafood Soup, and Borsch with Beef.  The seafood soup was great – the prawns and fish were very fresh, and the soup was light and flavourful. I had the Brosch with Beef, which has a deep red look. I like the soup base and the abundance of shredded vegetables in it. But the beef pieces tasted slightly different from the ones I usually have. I wasn’t sure what gave it the unusual taste. At one point, I feel as though I should have left the beef pieces and finish the rest of the soup.

Mediterranean Seafood Soup

For the main courses, we had Crispy Chicken with Aromatic Herbs and Rice, and Fish with Linguine and Zucchini.  I ordered the chicken, which paled in comparison to the fish dish. For the chicken, the skin is flavoured with a thin layer of salt and parsley, and then fried until crispy and golden. Unfortunately, the flavours of the seasoning did not seep into the chicken meat. Some bites of the meat were too tough for my liking too.  On the other hand, the fish with linguine and zucchini tasted way better.  Main highlight of the dish – the fish was very fresh. It was pan-seared with a crispy skin.  And fortunately, the meat stayed fresh and tender.

Fish with Linguine and Zucchini

The total bill came up to about 2,400 Russian Rubles (inclusive of a glass of house red and a bottle of water).  We got a 15% discount from a coupon which we found in the St. Petersburg In Your Pocket mini-guide. We gave a tip of 300 Rubles. I’m sure there are better restaurants out there.  But considering this is our first meal in St Petersburg, I would say it’s a decent choice.

Restaurant Gymnasium
21, Konnogvardeisky Boulevard, Saint Petersburg

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