This pub on Vasilyevsky Island is amongst St Petersburg’s first to bring Belgian food culture to the city, moules-frites and all, as an all-around experience. Its name, whilst referencing to a brand of strong amber ale from Belgium – the one with a weird branded glass held up in a wooden stand, is actually somewhat tongue-in-cheek, evoking the name of Mishka Kvakin, a hooligan kid from a 1940s Soviet children’s book.
KwakInn was founded by Vladimir Postnichenko, who drummed in the 1990s rock band NOM. His 2000s bar Cynic was a precursor to the current “alternative bar” scene in the city, and is still fondly remembered.
KwakInn is fairly stately, with typically heavy pub furniture, but a lighter touch is provided by pictures of Belgium’s most famous citizen, Tintin, or copies of René Magritte paintings that pop up throughout. Beers get served in their trademark glasses and frites in a paper cone, which I presume is the right way. The waitresses are really friendly, which is always good no matter what cultural tradition they seek to represent.
So, much the same way local breweries are doing their versions of Belgian dubbels so do local bars. Trouble is, I have never been to Belgium, but if KwakInn is anything to go by, I think I’m going to have fairly pleasant time there. There are in fact two more branches of KwakInn elsewhere in the city, and two bottle shops, but they are outside my usual migration routes, so there’s probably some differences.