03 Apr Svobody 4 – Minsk
You cannot mistake the architecture in Minsk. Imposing structures loom down on you with a furrowed brow. Even supermarkets have glorious reliefs of determined men looking into the horizon. While this epic style seems designed to make the individual feel small, these days you’ll find the inside has other ideas. For this reason it was unexpectedly tricky to find Svobody 4 despite its name being the address. Plošča Svobody or Freedom Square is in Minsk’s ‘old town’, reconstructed post-war. Alongside banks and boutiques the bar is completely camouflaged, its single distinguishing feature being Svobody 4 written in white thin modern font on a corner of the glass door. Not only that but you’re not sure what to look out for – it’s a wine and music bar but also serves lunch and dinner as well as keeping coffee enthusiasts happy. A chameleon in more ways than one.
Once you’re in it’s like you’ve been whisked into a trendy Shoreditch converted warehouse. Mottled grey concrete walls, angular metal light pendants and moody dark tones act as a neutral backdrop for large, bright artwork above the dining area. It’s cool and modern. A pair of girls spend more time taking photos of themselves with the coffee rather than drinking it – this is where you want to go for Instagram content ?
The menu varies from smaller lunch friendly meals (soup, bread, olives) to larger plates. Mine was the ‘brisket’ which when it arrived was actually pork – no bad thing, probably the English menu hadn’t been updated yet for the new season. The elements on the dish were similar to what was written on the menu but with more Spring appropriate ingredients. The pork had a lovely sweet sticky glaze which worked well with gently charred young spring onions. Celeriac mash, crisps and pork gravy rounded everything off. Very enjoyable and tasty.
Mr Munch had a fun sounding dish – beer pulled duck with apple and buckwheat porridge. Sounds like breakfast gone rogue. Presentation is great – it looks like a baked apple on cinnamon porridge. In fact, it is a baked apple on cinnamon porridge, the only difference between this and your morning meal being the hidden beer stewed duck and lingonberries inside the apple itself. It’s an interesting one – a play on sweet and savoury with the added visual surprise trying to confuse your tastebuds.
As with most places we ate in Minsk, Svobody 4 is fantastic value. Well thought out contemporary dining for £6 per person? Incredible. It’s a relaxing environment, no one is in a rush here. I feel like the London equivalent would have people dashing in and out, staff bustling around, constant motion all around. What’s more you don’t even have to leave as the sun goes down. Order a glass of wine, pick the next record and enjoy the music.
Total receipt (2 people): 43 BYN (£13.38)
1 x Pulled duck, apple, buckwheat 19
1 x Pork, parsnip, spring onion 19
1 x apple juice 2.5
1 x orange juice 2,5
Rating: 8.5/10 Contemporary, young, fun
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