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“A sad, disorganized, overpriced wannabe posh.”
Review of Mari Vanna

Mari Vanna
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Ranked #1,484 of 22,827 Restaurants in London
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: Russian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Breakfast, Dinner, Late Night, Reservations
Neighborhood: Knightsbridge
Description: Russian restaurant for any time, where one can meet friends, eat at leisure and feel at home. Welcome!
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“A sad, disorganized, overpriced wannabe posh.”
Reviewed December 28, 2012

I have visited them 4 times with great hopes each time. First I was there 2 days after they unofficially opened. Athmosphere amazed me, staff was welcoming and corteous wiithout being over the top, food was bad, but most restaurants have their problems when they just open. However, visiting them 2 more times I found their food the Russian best of London, the service went to hell. The 2 faced lady meeting people at the entrance made a needless queue of about 10 people who had to somehow take their coats off when there was no room to turn your head to the side! 10 minute wait let to the table (btw my 4people company was 2nd in line), 15 minute menu wait, rude drinks boy... and etc etc Both times the service was absolutely horrible. But when I went there in December (was in Knightsbridge, wanted my home country deli) me and my boyfriend waited for 40 minutes in total, on a wednesday at 4 pm!!! When only 5 tables were taken!!! 20 minutes of which by the way I had to wait for the bill because we got enough after waiting other 20 minutes for tea. The funny thing, I don't understand how someone can make customers wait to give their money to you... how is that even acceptable? And then she brings me an 80 pound bill... "ohh sorry..." all she said. So I left 11 pounds for a cup of tea and a glass of disgusting (bitter!) orange juice... and paid for the service because I realised that waiting for a bill without service included would make us explode.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
3 Thank AnastassiyaB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Alisa E, Public Relations Manager at Mari Vanna, responded to this review, February 11, 2014
Dear Anastassiya!

Thank you for your feedback. It sounds like you've had some awful experiences and we are very sorry to hear that. We usually get quite good reviews and can guarantee that your experiences are not a norm. You must have been very unfortunate, and we must say that much of what you've mentioned is something we've been aware of and since the opening have improved a lot. We've learned from our mistakes and listened to the negative feedback and hopefully we'll never put anyone through what happened to you again, ever.

We strongly hope we can make a better impression another time and that you can forgive us.

Love,
MV
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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430 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Norwegian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
London, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
17 reviews
15 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Great location & service, food OK but tad pricey”
Reviewed December 28, 2012

I ate here a few months ago with two friends, worth visiting just to check out the incredible decor in the main room and the loos! Think pre-revolution Russia, v opulent and lots of gold but tastefully done. The service was fab, they didn't complain when our friend turned up 1.5 hours late (!) and offered me a blanket when I was cold and even an iPhone charger for my friend's dying phone battery! The bread was delicious, proper dark Russian bread full of flavour. However, our mains (chicken fritters with mashed potato and salted cucumbers) were lacking in flavour and I couldn't finish my dish. Also, there was no plov on the menu. I know it's not strictly a Russian dish but c'mon, you gotta have a plate of plov on the menu! I think I will stick to Borscht & Tears on Beauchamp Place for now, but will def return to Mari Vanna in the New Year to give it another try.

  • Visited September 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank londonchica13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Alisa E, Public Relations Manager at Mari Vanna, responded to this review, February 11, 2014
Hi there,

Thank you so much for your feedback.

We have quite a lot on our menu considering our restaurant is not that big (and you should see our kitchen!). Hopefully, one day we'll have plov, it is certainly a very yummy dish!

We do hope your New Year experience was a greater one!
Love,
MV
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
14 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Excellent”
Reviewed December 24, 2012

Simple and authentic Russian food. For those who expect haute cuisine please choose another restaurant. It is a home-made traditional food, fresh and warming for long dinners with friends. The service is good and friendly. The decor is well thought. A bit pricey..? Well, those who know how much it takes to preape one Russian meal will appreciate what it costs.

  • Visited December 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Pavlycheva
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Alisa E, Public Relations Manager at Mari Vanna, responded to this review, February 11, 2014
Hi dear,

Thank you so much for your lovely review.
We are very happy you liked it and hope to see you soon again!
Love,
MV
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
20 reviews
10 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“Bland and boring”
Reviewed December 12, 2012

The food was average at best and the service was slow. Prices were too high given that the food is bland and unimpressive. The vodka wasn't great, and there was only one caviar option on the menu. The overall presentation was nice, and the idea of the place is interesting, but I won't be going there again.

  • Visited December 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
4 Thank eej84
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Alissa E, Public Relations Manager at Mari Vanna, responded to this review, February 11, 2014
Hi there,

We are sorry to hear you were not very happy with your dining experience. We've considered your feedback and have been working hard on becoming better since.

Hope to see you again anyway! :)
Love,
MV
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cambridge, UK
Level 6 Contributor
327 reviews
195 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 138 helpful votes
“Great place - leave with mixed feelings though...”
Reviewed December 10, 2012

I am still trying to sort out my impressions from a dinner with friends yesterday. Decor is rather nice, as others have commented. Service simply great - boys and girls are genuinely friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. It feels that they watch the tables trying to anticipate any whims or potential problems, and magically appear at the table just before someone is about to call them. I use plural since IMHO they are completely interchangeable; any waiter is prepared to help at any table.
Anyway, we are there for food first, service second. So the food... I imagine there is a big difference between clientele who are (i) non-Russians, (ii) young Russians, (iii) not so young Russians.

First, non-Russians: here is your chance to have an authentic Russian meal that you'd be served when visiting a Russian household (on a slightly special occasion). It will be expensive at Mari Vanna, but then you save on an airplane ticket to Russia. And how easy will it be to get yourself invited to a Russian dinner? So I say accept the cost (it's Knightsbridge, after all) and enjoy the experience. Important thing is to have a reasonable size company and order lots of different starters to share. This is how Russian meal at home is done; a bit like Chinese, dishes in the middle and everyone takes a bit on their plates. Main course is best ordered personally. A word of "cultural warning" - this is not "traditional Russian" cuisine but on most occasions "traditional Soviet" one. Cooking crazes would take over all households in 50-60s, and everyone would start making "prunes with beetroot", "herring under fur coat" (more beetroot), etc. Older recipes are present too, e.g. Olivier salad (the simplest thing to prepare when you have unexpected guests - especially the cheap variety with "Doctorskaya" sausage). Recipes and know-how for some dishes such as kholodets (look up "aspic" in wikipedia) or Napoleon dessert would be passed through generations, and many a household conflict would start with "My Napoleon is better than yours..."

Young Russians, judging from what we've seen at Mari Vanna and what is written here, are throughly smitten by the pseudo-nostalgia (cannot be the true one, since they have not lived in those Soviet times to which the food refers to).

The last group is a more difficult one. These are people who had exact such meals for years and, if not natural laziness, could whip up all those lovely dishes without breaking much sweat. So there is a bit of sadness related to prices; here we pay for the convenience of not having to cook at home rather than for an exotic dish. To me all the examples we tried seemed pretty good and as they should be. Quail rather than chicken egg in Olivier salad does not really make much difference.

Our main choices included chicken patties (only so-so), beef stroganoff with fried potatoes and mushrooms (instead of designated buckwheat) - not bad at all, especially potatoes, and calf liver - my personal favourite. Very tender bits of liver, with lovely sauce.

All in all, it's an experience to be heartily recommended, but I doubt I'll return anytime soon. I had too many such meals before, and we can do it again much cheaper at home. I accept it won't be as perfect as at Mari Vanna...

  • Visited December 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank vmilman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Alisa E, Public Relations Manager at Mari Vanna, responded to this review, February 11, 2014
Hi there!


We are very impressed by your review and the efforts you put into it.
Thank you so much, it will certainly be one of the most helpful ones amongst all reviews.
We are very happy you enjoyed your visit and do hope we'll see you soon again!
Love,
MV
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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