"The Idiot" is a St Petersburg institution, sadly these days it's more likely to be filled with tour groups on their way to the nearby Mariinsky Theatre, than it is poets, philosophers or revolutionaries.
No doubt it has plenty of old world charm and atmosphere, the furniture, drapes, artwork and low ceilings, along with the name - none would be out of place among the works of Dostoyevsky.
But the charm wears off quickly as the ordering process begins. "No you can't have this". "No we are out of that" - which all roughly translates to "we can't be fagged making anything on the menu, so you will have this". Well at least our waitress isn't tearing strips off us, the fate of a fellow at a nearby table. Not even a free shot of bleach-like vodka can lift our spirits. And who brings out vodka for kids anyway?
Once the food does arrive, its all wrong, stodgy and bland. We leave feeling unfulfilled, and very unloved.
All in all, you come to a place like this for the experience, not the service or food. Put the latter aside and you might think its worth it as part of your quest to find the real Russia.