Belarusian cuisine is rather simple. Basic products used for meals preparation are root vegetables and cereals. They are accompanied by dairy products, soups, different beverages and meat. Here we won’t tell you much about meat but will try to show other choice of belarusian food.
The most popular of those root vegetables are of course potatos. Visiting Belarus we had to inevitably try potato pancakes. They are called draniki there and are usually served with sour cream, sometimes with mushroom sauce. It’s not rather recommended to eat mushrooms in Belarus but somehow we always end up with them. Southeastern areas of the country are still contaminated with radiocactive isotope cesium-137 afther the disaster in Chernobyl in 1986. But we strongly believe that today’s vegetable suppliers have their products tested before delivery to consumption. The same story is with blueberries so if possible it’s better to avoid them there.
Our first on this trip potato pancakes we tried in the restaurant Kamyanica in the back of Gorky Park in the center of Minsk. It’s a 19th century building brought to Minsk from Nesvizh, small city nearby the capital, a home of beautiful 16th century palace complex inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List. Interior of Kamyanitsa is decorated with swords and shields, waitresses wear nice costumes and whole place in details is kept in 19th century style.
Potato pancakes we can definitely praise – very good, homemade, fresh and crispy. It’s easy to spoil them but here they managed to keep the quality. And it’s here where we ended up with mushrooms!
Since the kitchen was already closing when we arrived, we couldn’t be to picky when ordering. Out of lenten dishes (as they call here non-meat options) we could also choose buckwheat and herring stuffed tomatoes. Buckwheat is very often served as an addition to for example meat dishes but also as a dish itself. Herring is another popular in Belarus product, especialy when it comes with a shot of vodka!
For desert we order a bite of luxury – sandwiches with caviar. It’s popular as a snackfood and it is usually present in local restaurants’ menus. Served as an appetiser, snack, vodka chaser and on our todays dinner – a desert.
We appreciated the high chair for Ola a lot, even though that after some time she was more interested in it’s underside.
For bigger children they have kids menu with both meat and non-meat dishes.
Next day for dinner we tried national cuisine in Vasilki restaurant (cornflours) on Independence Avenue and it turned out it was our another mushroom meal. It seems that mushrooms are usually added to non-meat dishes here. The place is arranged in traditional style; light colors, traditional motives and waiters’ costumes brought to our minds pictures of the idyllic country. Restaurant must be very popular among locals as people kept coming all the time we spent there. That’s probably why they have six restaurnat in the city.
Place offers not only national quisine but also various meals of generaly eastern origin however some western style food is also present in the menu. Pictures of dishes allow easily decide what to choose. Baby high char was avaliable so Ola could eat her dinner comfortably. Only at the end she decided to go out of it to check what she can get from the table.
An interesting eastern compsition is a kind of salad – herring under a coat. It’s layered sequentially: herring, boiled potatos, carrots, beetroots and shreded eggs on top. All of them covered by thin coat of mayo. When ordering any kind of salad in Belarus make sure to have something more as salads are really tiny there!
Although the weather was crazy cold Dad ordered popular in eastern Europe cooling soup – a mix of beetroots and milk drinks like sour cream, joughurt or buttermilk. By the way when being in Belarus make sure to try some of those dairy products. They are totaly different than the ones produced by western companies, they are smooth and delicious.
Vodka is a special product in Belarus, it’s highly consumed and its price is very important for Belarusians and for whole economy. Within last 2 – 3 years it doubled its price. Other products prices rose as well but it was vodkas cost that has been the most widely commented, also abroad.
To keep the truth we have to say that Minsk is full of sushi bars, pizza restaurants and so on. Those different cuisines must be very popular in the city. Just before leaving we visited one of local chains – Planeta Pizza. Modern decor inside, all age guests around, almost no free tables. Unfortunately no high chair. It wasn’t easy to deal without it but we made it. Not without getting dirty all over. Pizza was quite good, different dough thicknesses available, rich variety of types to choose.
Place offers wide selection of other than pizza dishes as well. What made us smile was the stamp. Belarusians like stamping all the pricelists. Only menu with round stamp seems to be valid. In such modern restaurant we didn’t expect to see this custom it but here it is:
If you get tired by national Belarusian cuisine Planeta Pizza is a good place to step in. Oh, and make sure to try kvass – another typically eastern drink. It’s made of fermented bread, contains very little alcohol – look for it in section of non-alcoholic beverages. It perfect for thirst. Probably all the restaurants have it on their menus. In medieval times it was a beverage popular accross whole Europe but today is characteristic for Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.