St Petersburg (Санкт-Петербург):
Tolstiy Fraer / Толстый Фраер
Monday 22nd July 2013
This pub and restaurant is part of a small chain of seven around the St Petersburg area. The concept is to recreate the feel of restaurants in the Soviet era. This particular example had wooden furniture and there were other aspects that recalled that era. One of which was the board with the photographs of all the staff. Those readers that travelled to communist countries in the past will remember that these were displayed in shops, factories and public buildings. This one (see lowest photo) was entitled Наши Маяки, "our lighthouses". Strange really, although an alternative version is "beacons", possibly more appropriate.
There are further translational problems with the restaurant's name. The accepted choice seems to be "Fat Friar" but there is also "Thick Friar" and "Fat Imbecile". Yet, look at the logo above. The man playing the piano is clearly not a friar; in fact he couldn't be further from the idea of a religious person with the glass of beer, a ring on his finger and a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. Their website mentions mild irony; is this it? Also, it arrives in English as "Fraer" and there is no such word. Likewise when you translate from Russian to French or German, the same occurs. Does anybody know the answer to this conundrum?
On entering there was a choice of left or right rooms. The one on the right with the serving area looked a bit gloomy, so I settled in the left-hand room that had much more light. The gentleman depicted above appeared by the far wall in this room poised at the self same piano, see photograph. Actually he was a mannequin. I was given a menu by a passing waitress and I took a photo of the beer page. I was told off in a perfunctory manner by another waitress. As she walked away I was thinking; real or irony? I just couldn't tell!
She went to curtained-off area along one side of the bar (very Soviet) and sat chatting with her colleagues and I still hadn't ordered (also very Soviet). Then another emerged and I got my beer quickly.
The owners of the chain established a brewery in suburb of St Petersburg in the autumn of 2006. It was built and installed by the well-known Kasper Schultz Co. of Bamberg, Germany. The beers are generally in the German style with a couple of ales. This was what was on offer:
Light unfiltered lager/Светлое Нефиль Трованное Осветленное (4.5%): German, Belgian and Finnish malt.
Light filtered lager/Светлое Фильтрованное (4.5%): as above but filtered.
Semi-dark lager/Полутёмное Фильтрованое (4.5%): Has light bitterness using German Spalt hops.
Unfiltered wheat beer/Светлое Нефильтрованное Осветленное (4.5%): Malt from Weyermann, Bamberg.
Unfiltered dark Porter/Портер НефильТрованное Тёмное (6.5%): A classic Russian style.
Filtered Red Ale/Янтарный эль Фильтрованное (abv unknown): May not be available all of the time.
I had the unfiltered light lager and liked it, although it was not outstanding. The food is said to be old-style Soviet. To be honest, it would be nice if someone could visit this, or any of the outlets, to give a second opinion or answer some of the questions posed and left unanswered after my visit.
Tolstiy Fraer, ulica Belinskogo 13, Sankt Peterburg. Tel: 272 7943
Толстый Фраер, Улица Ъелиского 13, Санкт-Петербург
Open: Sunday to Thursday 10.00-01.00; Friday-Saturday 10.00-03.00
The pub is around 10 to 15 minutes walk from Nevsky Prospekt and about 20 minutes from the Metro station of Gostinyi Dvor/Гостиный Двор, which is on Nevsky Prospekt.