This post continues our 4 day road trip on the Golden Ring outside of Moscow. For an overview of the entire trip see Golden Ring Road Trip, Day 1 – Moscow to Vladimir.
Boutique Hotel Ioann Vasilievich
The Ioann Vasilievich Hotel has spacious movie themed rooms. Our room, #1, had a mural facing of the bed of medieval warriors headed for battle. A bear skin hangs on a side wall. The log paneled room is comfortable and reasonably quiet. The bathroom, while ordinary, is very clean and not too small with a bathtub/shower combo. Drinking water is provided as well as a hair dryer and robes, but there is no coffee and tea service in the room. Good wifi. Parking is on the street in front of the hotel. We had no difficulty finding a space arriving at 5PM on a Thursday evening in mid-October. A few of the staff speak English.
The breakfast buffet, included in the price of the room, was the worst of the entire trip. Some have described it as a throwback to Soviet rations and that is not far off. While it includes most of the typical categories of items found at other hotels, the selection is minimal and the quality not good – worse than at Veliy in Suzdal.
Hot food included – fried eggs, pancakes, waffles, boiled potatoes, sausage and meatballs. Bread included only dry white bread and pastry sticks (actually good). The only fruit was a mix of canned pineapple and papaya. There was only one kind of not very good cheese, and no cold cuts or cured fish. Other offerings included – rice porridge, servings of yogurt with muesli on top, but no other cereal. Coffee was from a self-serve machine.
Note: The town is more of a Russian tourist destination than international with minimal English spoken. Restaurants do not always have menus in English.
Dinner at Ioann Vasilievich
Located in the hotel of the same name the Russian movie themed restaurant has portraits of Russian movie characters in period costumes hanging on the wall. The dining room is only loosely decorated in an exotic period style with upholstered bench seating and pillows, but bland off-white tile floors.
The menu focuses on standard Russian fare specializing in grilled meats. We started with the fish platter. Priced to serve 2 or 3, the generous portion of cured sea trout, salmon and oilfish was a treat. For mains we ordered the grilled chicken and the lamb kebobs. Both were well cooked, but the lamb was on the bland side for my tastes with mild lamb flavor and not much seasoning.
While the restaurant does have an English menu, staff only speaks just enough English to handle basic requests. They are, however, very friendly and eager to please.
Dinner at Penati
Penati is an upscale dining experience without the upscale price tag. The cozy dining room with large generously spaced tables is decked out in exposed brick contrasted with carved dark wood. The restaurant was quiet on a Friday night in October, although the live music amplified over speakers nixed the need for hushed tones. The server was kind enough to turn down the music so Don and I could have a conversation without having to shout across the large table.
The menu offers a good selection of classic Russian as well as European fare. We started with a trio of cured fish – salmon, smoked halibut and eel – with teriyaki sauce along with the bread basket. The fish was nicely presented and sized for two to share or one hungry person. The bread basket included a selection of different warm rolls, wafer thin seeded crackers and thin bread sticks, all fresh.
For mains we ordered the black cod, although it was really ordinary cod, served with potatoes and cucumber. Black cod, also called sable fish is a heavenly succulent fish far superior to regular cod. Don was doubly disappointed as the fish was also overcooked.
The veal tongue, however, was wonderful – tender, flavorful and perfectly cooked. Served with cauliflower ravioli (creamy cauliflower in wonton wrappers), black garlic and a sea buckthorn sauce – whatever that is! The dish was beautifully presented with well-balanced flavors.
We also ordered the grilled vegetables as an accompaniment – a nice assortment of well-cooked vegies.
For dessert, the Rowan Balls – chocolate, cranberry and fir mousse – was an extravaganza of original flavors and an over-the-top presentation including a dry ice cloud.
Service is highly professional and attentive. Although our waiter spoke very little, he understood our English without hesitation or comment.
I would definitely recommend the restaurant as lovely experience and a great value for the money. I would, however, stick to dishes that include local ingredients.
October 10-11, 2019
For links to all the posts in this series see the Russia page.