Belaruskaya Gleba

Ethno-Cafe Belaruskaya Gleba
(“Belarusian Bread”)
Беларуская Глеба
ul. Karla Marksa 26a
12 pm – 12 am
Entrees $5–10

Belarusian food is not exactly local to Irkutsk, but I’ve come across so few Belarusian restaurants in my life (like, one) that I was determined to check out this one. Centrally located on Irkutsk’s main avenue and big and comfortable, Belaruskaya Gleba is a great place for dinner with friends or a big party—there’s tons of space.

Belaruskaya Gleba

The restaurant is styled to look like an old-style Belarusian tavern, as far as I can tell. The furniture is all big, clunky and wooden, and there are traditional-looking Belarusian woven patterns all over the place. The waitresses all wear something approximating traditional Belarusian dress. What I enjoyed the most was that the menu was all in Belarusian (though with Russian underneath, luckily). It was fun to try to figure out what the Belarusian said before giving up and turning to the Russian, which suddenly seemed comforting and familiar.

The food itself is probably not the restaurant’s strong suit, unfortunately—there may be a reason Belarusian cuisine is not world-famous. I had a perfectly serviceable plate of potato pancakes/draniki and chicken sausage; my vegetarian friend scoured the menu and settled, for lack of choice, on vegetable kotleti. I had a dark Belarusian beer that was much better than I expected, as well. The menu also had krambambula, the traditional Belarusian honey-spice liquor (and a Belarusian rock band!), which I didn’t try but would consider going back for.

Belaruskaya Gleba

Not my finest photography, but you get the idea.

Overall, top marks for atmosphere and the sense that I’d gotten to try a new cuisine, as similar as it is to Russian; lower marks for the actual food.

Belaruskaya Gleba

Julie Hersh

Julie is currently studying Russian as a Second Language in Irkutsk (and before that, Bishkek) with SRAS's Home and Abroad Scholarship program, with the goal of someday having some sort of Russia/Eurasia-related career. She recently got her master’s degree from the University of Glasgow and the University of Tartu, where she studied women’s dissent in Soviet Russia. She also has a bachelor’s degree in literature from Yale. Some of her favorite Russian authors are Sorokin, Shishkin, Il’f and Petrov, and Akhmatova. In her spare time Julie cautiously practices martial arts, reads feminist websites, and taste-tests instant coffee for her blog.

Julie is attending Home and Abroad
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