Lunch at Cafe Izbushka

Cafe Izbushka / Кафе Избушка
Ул. Красного Восстания 9а
Hours: 8:30 – 0:00
Phone: 8-3952-48-58-21 Website: www.izba38.ru

The buffet is a fairly ubiquitous feature of restaurants in Russia. Often, a buffet is a clear sign that the food you are about to consume will be cheap, yet boring, lukewarm and tasteless. Cafe Izbushka is a welcome exception to this trend, offering a wide range of fresh and delicious dishes at very reasonable prices.

I was quite surprised to find such nice eatery in the space where cafe Izbushka is located, in the same building as a food court with a variety of Russian fast food knock-offs. Located in the basement, Cafe Izbushka offers both far better quality and also considerably lower prices than the various burger and pizza joints above it. The restaurant is fairly large with quite a few large wooden tables with benches in a space decorated to look like a traditional Russian peasant hut; if you’ve ever seen the more common Russian chain restaurant Yolki-Palki it will look very familiar. The restaurant is in fact a mini-chain with two other outlets located around the downtown area (see website for details); there is also a franchise at Российская 17, which is quite close to the university, but I have yet to go there. This particular franchise is  located near Stadion Truda, not particularly close to the university or to the dormitory. However, it is located very close to the offices of The Great Baikal Trail and the Tahoe-Baikal Institute (Lapina 43V) so if you decide to do any volunteering with either of these organizations then this Izbushka is a convenient place for a snack.

The food and the menus are all up at the large buffet at the front of the restaurant. From their display cases, you’ll see their wide variety of salads, cutlets and pastries, but be aware that there are also other items available which are not on display. There are usually several soups available which are listed on a small board near the register. Also, some items like draniki, blini, and pozy are always available but are kept behind the counter and made to order. Overall, the selection of dishes is quite broad and includes a number of vegetarian options; there is something for pretty much everyone. Personally, I opted for a Korean carrot salad, solyanka, draniki, and a cup of tea, which cost about 170 rubles altogether. The salad was pleasantly garlicky and the carrots were fresh, the solyanka was pretty standard, and the draniki were enormous and nicely crunchy. Overall, a very filling meal for a reasonable price, if you happen to be in the area.

For groups and faculty-led tours, Izbushka would be an excellent choice as it has lots of space, relatively quick service, and low prices.

D. Garrison Golubock

D. Garrison Golubock

David Garrison Golubock graduated from the University of Chicago in 2011 with degrees in history and Slavic languages and literatures. With a full year of academic study abroad already under his belt, he will be participating in SRAS's Home and Abroad Program in Irkutsk over the 2012-2013 academic year. He plans to pursue graduate studies in his fields.

D. Garrison attended Home and Abroad
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