A Semi-Grand Affair

To be perfectly frank, you will not find a restaurant in St. Petersburg to match the imperial beauty of a czarist palace. Believe me, we tried. The closest you'll come is to the very expensive Palkin, on the second floor of a landmarked building on Nevsky Prospekt. Reportedly a favorite of Tchaikovsky et al, the restaurant, which dates back to 1785, was fussed up in 2002 with chandeliers, parquet floors, silk drapes, and cooking said to reflect that of the bygone royals. There are dishes such as sterlet (a species of sturgeon) in white wine, rabbit stewed in sour cream, and, of course, Caspian caviar. 'Tis not our idea of heaven, but others are enthralled. Dinner, $220. At 47 Nevsky Prospekt; 7-812/703-5371; palkin.ru.