Dining in the Garden of the Yusupov Princes
Half the fascination of visiting the amazing Yusupov Palace, once owned by one of the richest families in Russia, is dining at the elegant restaurant, Dvorianskoye Gnezdo, which means Nobleman’s Nest. Housed in a glass pavilion in a corner of the palace garden, it is the dining venue of choice for visiting heads of state and those who wish to recapture the romance of St. Petersburg past.
Candlelit and chic, its menu offers Europeanized Russian cuisine, though the occasional detractor complains of erratic quality. But who can concentrate on the food when you are in the middle of the perfect Anna Karenina moment? The restaurant’s proximity to the Mariinsky Theater (formerly the Kirov) makes it an ideal après-theater choice.
Find time to visit the palace itself. Its private gilt and velvet rococo theater is as precious as a Fabergé egg, but it’s the infamous cellar that draws many tourists and history buffs.
This is where Rasputin, the Siberian mystic who wielded a sinister influence over the last czar, Nicholas II, met his grisly end at the hands of Nicholas’s good friend Prince Yusupov, in 1916. When cyanide-laced wine didn’t work, Yusupov shot him, tied him up, and threw him into the Neva River – while still alive, many believe. A wax statue of the “mad monk” now sits at a table in the shadows of the palace cellar.