About The Russian Tavern
The Russian Tavern is a family restaurant situated on the holiday island of Bute in Western Scotland and run by Dag and Olga Crawford since 2001.
The idea of a Russian Tavern appeared in St.Petersburg in the summer of 1996, when Dag first visited Russia. He expected to find Russia as described in classical Russian literature. His favourite story was Singers from "A Hunter's Album" by Ivan Turgenev. In this story a narrator came across a tavern in rural Russia where a contest of wonderful local singers took place. Dag was so enchanted by the story that his first demand upon arrival to St.Petersburg was to be taken to one of those taverns. It took him a while to understand that Russian taverns as well as almost everything else authentic Russian were replaced during 70 Post-Revolution years by Soviet style establishments. Although taverns are usual feature of present-day Russia, the post-Soviet St.Petersburg had little resemblance to Turgenev's Russia. After searching for several hours the centre of Sr.Petersburg, the closest analogue of the tavern to be found was a beer-bar, in a yard off Nevskii prospect , where locals tasted a range of Baltika beers and expressed an interest in trying out their bit of English. A special sign of their friendliness was a demand to the hostess not to charge 'the foreigner' a deposit for his beer glass, which was customary in those days.
The idea of The Russian Tavern re-appeared again when Dag and Olga were leaving London in 2000, now to establish as a family-ran seaside restaurant recreating the taste of 'Old Russia'. They bought The Port Royal Hotel overlooking picturesque Kames Bay. The restaurant of the hotel was re-painted in warm colours using natural pigments, an original blond timber floor was exposed and an original fireplace re-constructed from stone slabs. Russian dolls, samovars, tapestries, embroideries and hand-painted plates completed an authentic Russian look. The Russian Tavern serves the cuisine of Imperial Times which was recreated from old books and archives of the public library in St.Petersburg.
The Russian Tavern is situated in the village of Port Bannatyne on the shore of Kames Bay. The village has a Marina, a Golf Course, a Petangue Club and a Post Office/Village Shop. The Port Bannatyne Marina is accessible at all tides and conveniently situated between Largs, Kip and Portavadie Marinas. Port Bannatyne's Golf Course provides breathtaking views from the hill above Port Bannatyne. A recently built walkway along the old tramtrack connects Port Bannatyne with the popular sandy beach at Ettrick Bay. Kames Bay has two privately owned castles - the 14th century Kames Castle and the 16th century Wester Kames Castle.