Siberian Pelmeni at Moscow on the Hill
Reprinted from City Pages
Happy 25th anniversary to Moscow on the Hill in St. Paul. We chat with Marina Liberman, who runs the Cathedral Hill institution with her husband Naum, about the early years, the key to their success and how the restaurant has turned into a family affair spanning the next generation.
Cathedral Hill in St. Paul is home to many quaint and romantic restaurants that offer locally sourced, delicate, artistic dishes. And that’s all fine and dandy, but what good are those attributes when it’s freezing cold outside and all we want are dumplings in massive quantities and copious amounts of vodka?
And so, we often find ourselves on those cold days at Moscow on the Hill for the Siberian Pelmeni.
The restaurant is pretty old-school, with white linen tablecloths, warm lighting, deep-red walls, a variety of questionable decor, and probably the most entertaining playlist we’ve heard lately (a Russian cover of Lady Marmalade? Throw that baby on repeat).
The menu lays out a variety of fine Russian cuisine, listing the expected borscht, blini, and chicken Kiev options. And while these are fine choices, we suggest you focus a bit more on the dumpling section. That’s right, an entire section devoted to hand-made dumplings.
You have your choice of the Siberian Pelmeni, the Peasant Pelmeni, and the Vegetarian Pelmeni. And while the Peasant Pelmeni is tasty, it can be quite heavy — baked with mushrooms and cheese and cream. But the Siberian Pelmeni is as simple as it is delicious, with a beef/pork blend filling, buttered, and served on a plate with some sour cream. Your server will also hand you a small bottle of white vinegar to complete the experience. Use sparingly.
$11.95 will get you a “small” order of pelmeni, which according to the server adds up to approximately 10 dumplings. The “large” boasts 20 dumplings, and is only $6 more. The pelmeni is also available at happy hour, offering a little taste for $4.
Siberia has always been depicted as a desolate, cold, and inhospitable area of Russia. But if these belly-warming dumplings originated there, it can’t be too bad. Order up a plate the next time you’re in the silver city — and do note that the entire experience will be heightened significantly with a nice cherry gimlet.
MOSCOW ON THE HILL
Where: 371 Selby Ave., St. Paul;
For more information: 651-291-1236; moscowonthehill.com