The Old Customs House – classic
The Old Customs House is situated just across the river from the Winter Palace on the Vasilyevsky Island. It serves food that connects back to the city’s imperial past. This is not adventurous new thinking food, but very classical Russian French cuisine.
The restaurant was built as a customs house and while the eighteenth century building has an impressive exterior the interior is quite cosy while at the same time a bit opulent. There is a nice open kitchen so you see what is going on. There are also several displays of different ingredients; such as trolleys of seafood on ice, tea trolleys with a good selection of teas, aquariums where you can pick your own sturgeon or where the waiter will pick oysters, and displays of expensive aged wines.
There are some unusual details such as kitsch mannequins dressed as customs officials when you enter and also a live jazz band that may entertain you during the meal. The restaurant is considered as one of the more posh places and has catered to heads of state and royalty.
The wine collection does not distinguish itself by its size but more by having some very expensive and old vintages of especially Bordeaux, Sauternes and Vintage Port. There is of course also a good selection of Vodka, but also whisky, cognac and other spirits.
The food is traditional with an emphasis on being exquisite, with ingredients such as foie gras, oysters the tsar favoured, truffles, lobsters, Kamchatka crab and of course caviar. It is a very wide menu that maybe tries to cater for too many needs, but then maybe it fits with the theme of being a bit opulent. You will find a wide selection of prime cuts, game and seafood, mostly done in French style with some Russian flair. There are efforts to make it current with foams, sorbets and way of serving, but the base remains very classical. The food is mostly well prepared, but there can be some misses in finesse, such as hard pastry or crème brûlée with no caramel top developed. Service is mostly attentive, a bit hesitant but again classic with white gloves and serving trolleys.
The Old Customs House is a place to go if you value traditional service and traditional food with exclusive wines in a Russian setting.
The Old Customs House scored 6o points of 100 points in our rating system. View our Top 60 of the world. Back to the reviews.
The Old Customs House
Tamozhenny pereulok 1
197720 Saint Petersburg
Phone: +7 812 327 89 80