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

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.


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.

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