Mari Vanna is the London branch of of an international Russian chain. Like its New York counterpart, it seems aimed at affluent Russians who yearn for a taste of Mother Russia. Named after a mythical babushka (grandmother), Mari Vanna is stuffed with hundreds of objects evoking times past. But how is granny’s cooking? Very traditional, in the best sense. Expect excellent rye breads, Russian salads, exemplary blinis and beef stroganoff. Diners seeking their dumpling fix should order the pelmeni – taut pasta cases around springy, juicy fillings. The wine list is on the expensive side, so vodka shots may be a better choice. For a less expensive way to experience Mari Vanna’s charms, afternoon tea is served from 2.30-4.45pm, and breakfast opening is planned. Guy Dimond
For info, see Mari Vanna listing.