Brooklyn Local Cafe
наб. канала Грибоедова, 27
Meals from 111 Rubles
The beautiful Bank Bridge or Griffin Bridge is a Saint Petersburg icon, frequently seen on postcards, tourist brochures, and is the emblem of FINEC/UNECON. What you don’t often see is the unobtrusive Brooklyn Local Café, situated comfortably down a set of stairs directly across the golden-winged bridge from the university. I scoped it out because I was craving a bagel. Like peanut butter and boxed cake mix, bagels are an American favorite that can be difficult to find abroad. In fact, Brooklyn Local serves a bagel with peanut butter! So if you’re ever craving, stop in- but I wouldn’t make it a habit. When I entered, a bored waiter flicked a glance my way, nodded for me to sit anywhere, and I scurried in with my head down. The décor is definitely pulling for a cooler, more hipster vibe- cute Christmas lights and a wire reindeer (it was mid January) still hung, little pots of grass in the windows, light fixtures shaped like to-go coffee cups, and retro movie posters. Maybe it was the basement location with pipes running along the ceiling, the ashtrays on every table, or the mix of old school hip hop and disco-jazz that threw me off, or maybe the way they misspelled “Broocklyn” in naming the Wi-Fi network, but there was something a bit off about the place I couldn’t shake.
But they have free Wi-Fi, I needed to get some work done and I really wanted a bagel, so I stayed. They have a large menu of café-type foods including soups and waffles. Most of the bagels come with cream cheese and another topping- tuna, jam, cheese, etc. They bagels range from about 130-200 rubles. I ordered a bagel with cream cheese and jam, see picture above, and it was rather disappointing. Nothing like an American bagel, it was bright white with sesame seeds and no flavor, the texture was dry and crumbly and tasted almost stale. The cream cheese was authentic, but not enough on the bagel. For 140 rubles I expected a lot more! I also got 250 ml of orange juice for 80 rubles and that at least was pulpy and delicious!
I was there on a very cold Thursday afternoon and stayed for about an hour. During that time only 4 other people patronized the establishment, I’m sure to the delight of the only waiter who seemed indifferent to our presence. There is, in fact, a kind of opium den charm to the place, I didn’t run out as soon as I finished my sorry bagel and I guess that says something!
The café also turns into a bar at night. Most reviews online are referencing this aspect of it, so I assume that is where most of its focus is. There are paper drink menus on each table, with the typical selections of beer, wine, and a section of pricy specialty cocktails entitled “Thank God I’m Rich”. If you are looking for a dimly lit, smoky, intimate place to spend an evening drinking with a few friends, I think it would be worth trying.
Overall, I won’t put an absolute “stay away” marker on Brooklyn Local, its atmosphere is authentic and the bar scene is alive and kicking. If you’re looking for an American-style bagel, however, don’t get your hopes up.
For groups and faculty led tours, there is probably room for up to 20 people in the morning or afternoon.