Where to get the best borscht and vodka in town? Restaurant expert, Sarah Randell, seeks out the capital's hidden Russian gems.

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Traditional pierogi with fried onions

If you're central

Sainsbury's magazine's former headquarters in Waterloo were a skip and a hop from Baltic Restaurant and Bar, and we often popped in for a bite and a glass of something reviving after a hard day's work. I can heartily recommend the pierogi which are small dumplings – a little bit like gnocchi.

Pierogi are often served tossed in lots of butter, and cheese frequently features too. What's not to like? Perfect comfort food with a difference for a cold frosty day. The following Russian restaurants are on my wish list, let us know if you get there first and what you had to eat.

 

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If you fancy a splurge

Mari Vanna, Knightsbridge 
An over-the-top take on Russian food, with authentic Russian cooking accompanied by a great big portion of kitsch – it's crammed with knick-knacks, crockery, photographs and chandeliers. Treat yourself to tender veal fillet frikadeller (meatballs) with caramelised onion mashed potato (£18) or beef stroganoff (thinly sliced fillet beef served with buckwheat and wild mushrooms – £21). I like the sound of the three-course set lunch for £25.

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mari vanna

Via Alisa E / Tripadvisor

If you're up for a fun night out

Borshtch 'n' Tears, South Kensington

Sounds like a fun night out – Russian food accompanied by live music from Russian folk artists. A modern take on traditional Russian cuisine and the food and vodka is surprisingly reasonable for well-heeled Kensington. I'm going to order the herring salad, borscht or solyanka (mixed meat) soups with piroshki (little stuffed buns). Average price is £20-£40 per meal.

• This piece originally appeared in Sainsbury's magzine