St. Petersburg

Interview with Svetoslav Dobrev

04 Oct 2018
Interview with Svetoslav Dobrev, owner of the Blgar restaurant

- What made you move to Russia?

- I was born in Bulgaria, in a small southern town. I studied in Germany, then in 2009 I moved to Moscow. I married a Russian woman. However, we didn’t like Moscow that much, so we moved to St. Petersburg. We love the city and we feel comfortable here, it is more European than Moscow in our opinion.

- How did you come up with the idea of opening a Bulgarian restaurant in St. Petersburg?
- When we moved to St. Petersburg, we were surprised to discover that in such a big city there was not a single Bulgarian restaurant despite the large diaspora living in the city. I talked with the Bulgarian consul, and we came up with the idea of opening a restaurant offering a home-made Bulgarian cuisine. 

- How does the Russian public differ from the European / Bulgarian? Does the taste of people who come to the restaurant vary in Russia and Bulgaria?
- The customers are about the same, there are no particular differences. We are a family restaurant and families come to us for a delicious meal and a great time, in a way that is traditional in Bulgaria too. The flavours are also about the same, as both the Russian and the Bulgarian cuisine is fairly simple. What is really important is high quality products and the skillful hands of the cook. At Blgar we import the main products directly from Bulgaria, like cheese and spices. Also all of our drinks come directly from Bulgaria, even the water! Our specialty, of course, is rakia, an authentic Bulgarian beverage which is made from grapes, apricots, or plums. 

- Who are the customers of your restaurant?
- Our customers are primarily Bulgaria-lovers. We also have a lot of regulars. We are located just two minutes away from the Mariinsky Theatre so we also get a lot of theatregoers and obviously, expats and their families. 

- What dishes would you recommend and what Bulgarian specialties can be found in your restaurant?
- Try gyuveche, you will not regret it! For vegetarians, we do gyuveche in shopski style with Bulgarian cheese. Banitsa is another Bulgarian specialty that you won’t find in any other cuisine in the world. 

- Name three of your favourite restaurants in St. Petersburg and tell me why you chose them.
- My family and I really like to go to Mayak in Ladoga. I would also recommend Serbish, our Serbian friends. In New Holland, there are several good street food places which we like for their food quality and warm and homey atmosphere.

- And the Russian cuisine? What do you like from it?
- First of all I like solyanka, but it needs to be homemade. It is rare that in restaurant you can find solyanka as the one made by my father-in-law!
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