The Impertor was a strange restaurant, mainly because we were the only people in it. The DK Travel Guide states the following:
The Strelka has a number of restaurants but none of them can match the Imperator for price. Tucked away in the basement of the Academy of Sciences, next to the Kunstkammer, it serves the usual mix of European and Caucasian cuisine, with the slightly odd addition of Mexican dishes. The small non-smoking room should be booked ahead.
The first part is certainly true – the prices were very reasonable. I’m not quite sure what ‘Caucasian cuisine’ entails but the menu was certainly very varied. The meal itself was pleasant, if not exceptional, but the service was fantastic. We had already eaten a few times since arriving in St Petersburg and the service had been pretty poor each time.
On the first evening, we opted to sit in the non-smoking area of a restaurant and were virtually ignored for the entire evening. We could never catch anyone’s attention and, while the food was lovely, it got a bit frustrating. On the second day, we stopped for a hot chocolate (which I think was actually melted chocolate) and had to wait what felt like forever for the bill. I think part of the problem might have been our choice to sit in non-smoking areas but, still, it became a bit irritating! As an aside, it was quite novel being asked whether we wanted to sit in a smoking or non-smoking area – it feels so long ago since I was last asked that in London!
However, the service in the Imperator was fantastic. I would definitely recommend it, based on that alone. The waiter was incredibly attentive, despite the language barrier which posed a few issues throughout. At the end of our meal, he actually ran to get us our coats. Actually ran. You wouldn’t get that in London!