Cafe Bogema/Кафе Богема
Ул. Крылова, д. 10, здание Ливонии
11 am – 12 am Daily
Meals from $4
For the last month of the Cheap Eats challenge, I decided to stick with a theme that I explored in my last entries: stopping into those nearby nooks and crannies that you always see, but never really give a chance. This one happens to be right across the road from VGUES, at the bottom of the hill on which stands Тихоокеанский (Tikhaokianskii; Pacific Ocean) supermarket, every dorm-dwelling VGUES student’s продукты (produkti; groceries) lifeline. Therefore, Café Bogema is not only close, but is also an extremely convenient place to grab a bite after the thirsty and thankless work of trekking up the hill and back in order to shop for necessities.
The interior of Café Bogema is surprisingly lush and well-appointed. The dark, weighty, gold bedecked chairs and solemnly decorated walls give the place the atmosphere of an imperial banquet hall. The prices, however, give the lie this spot’s imperial façade! For an absolutely delicious meal of kharcho (150 ru), plov (100 ru), and kompot (25 ru), I paid 275 rubles and called myself thankful!
My first impression upon walking into Café Bogema, besides the sophistication of the décor, was that I was not the only one passing this place by, unfortunately. I walked in during the last minutes of business lunch, and the eatery was completely empty (and that includes staff!). I had to call out a few times before someone came out to the counter and took my order, but which was a bit annoying, but after that everything went quite smoothly. The woman that waited on me was apologetic about her absence while taking care of back-of-the-house duties and was also extremely pleasant. After a brief chat, I ordered and sat down to await my food.
Each course was expertly prepared, and of a size to satisfy even the hungriest of appetites. The kharcho (a Georgian soup with a tomato-like base) was made with the traditional beef and had me slurping up the last vestiges from the bowl, so tasty was this interpretation. The plov (a central Asian rice dish, most often prepared with lamb) was simply to die for, and I can say without reservation that it was the best I tried while in Vladivostok, which is no small accomplishment as plov is on nearly every menu in the city in some form. The kompot (a drink made from distilled fruit juices and added sugars) was also extremely refreshing and just the right combination of syrupy sweet and tantalizingly tangy.
For groups and faculty-led tours, I would most definitely recommend Café Bogema (as I would to all comers). The excellence of the food is beyond reproach, there is definitely enough room at almost every table for a sizable group and, having heard that one of the foreign students living in the VGUES dorms hosted a birthday party there to rave reviews, I am sure that the restaurant’s managers staff it sufficiently when they are aware of a large group’s impending presence.