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Entries in Brigantina Cafe (2)


Sochi Seaport


Sochi City Center and Seaport

Sochi is the site of the 2014 Winter Games and is recognized as one of the largest construction zones in the world. Games venues, both in the mountains and at the Coastal Cluster, are being built new and at a pace to finish well ahead of the Games.  Krasnaya Polyana has 3 beautiful, state of the art, new ski resorts and a new hospital.  There is a new airport, train stations are being rebuilt (including Adler Station, which will be the largest in Russia).  A new high-speed rail network will connect the airport with both the Coastal and Mountain Clusters. There are new roads, highways, bridges and massive retaining walls and a new border crossing.  Large, modern hotels and resorts are being built in Krasnaya Polyana, Adler and Sochi.  New apartment complexes, office buildings and shopping centers are going up all over the city, particularly near the Sochi city center.  

With all of this happening in Sochi, it is easy to miss what may have as big an impact as almost any of these on Sochi's ability to sustain an international tourism legacy after the Games conclude - the expansion of Sochi's seaport.  The massive project involves using both public (for infrastructure) and private investment (for commercial development). The investment by the Russian government alone will be more than 7 billion rubles (about $230 million).  The project will include 730 meters of cruise ship terminals, which will allow 2 large cruise ships to dock in Sochi, simultaneously.  There will be a new yacht marina, roll on/ roll off ship berths, a 1,000 meter protective pier and a 200 meter breakwater.  The new seaport will also include a retail complex with additional space for restaurants and parking. When all is said and done, Sochi's seaport will be recognized as the best facility on the Black Sea.   

Construction on the seaport project began this summer and completion is expected next year.  It is located in the very center of Sochi, near the pedestrian zone defined on one side by the Sochi River and the other by Gorkovo Ulitsa.  It is about 1 1/2 blocks from the McDonald's Restaurant and next to Sochi's boardwalk.  The area around the seaport is already seen as the center of Sochi's restaurant scene, with the locally well-known Brigantina Cafe sitting next to the marina.   The iconic seaport building, built during the Soviet era, sits near the Olympic Clock.

I have been watching developments in Sochi closely and with the seaport reconstruction ramping up, I wanted to get a closer look and more information about what is happening. So, recently I met with local officials and took a brief tour. That afternoon, the Director of the Seaport and I took a walk and he showed me the seaport and its yacht marina. He said that with thousands of new passengers disembarking to shop, eat and drink, sightsee and to enjoy the beaches and mountains, the new seaport will place Sochi on the international cruise ship map.  Cruise ships are projected to increase the number of visits to Sochi to 179 by that same year. Those cruise ships alone are expected to bring more than 100,000 new tourists to Sochi, most of whom will be from Western Europe or North America.  Ferry traffic, including to local destinations and which connects Sochi to Trabzon, Turkey; Gagra, Abkhazia: Batumi, Georgia and other Russian cities on the Black Sea, such as Gelendzhik and Novorossiysk, is projected to grow to 463 stops in 2015.                                                                                                                              

The Winter Games and accompanying development in Sochi has been part of comprehensive plan to increase tourism in Sochi and Russia.  Sochi is rapidly transforming into an international, year-around, mountain sports and beach destination, with tourists arriving by airplane, train, automobile and cruise liners.


Seaport Construction 



Sochi's Celebrity Chef


Martial Simonneau the owner and head chef at Brigantina Cafe and Brasserie, took time this week to talk to me about his restaurant, his service ethos and the arc of his life from Normandy through Nice, Paris and Moscow to Sochi, where the Brigantina is the only French-owned and operated restaurant in the city center. Martial learned about the restaurant business from his parents' restaurant in Normandy.  He lived in Nice and and later in Paris, where he worked at the famous De la Paix Cafe for several years.  Eventually, Martial was hired to run the kitchen at a casino in Moscow.  In 2002, he came to Sochi to manage a restaurant in Krasnaya Polyana, where he worked for several years.  After this, he detoured to Yekaterinburg to run a casino.  Two years ago, drawn by the promise of Sochi, he moved back and opened Brigantina Cafe and Brasserie next to the seaport. His son, Bastien, a graduate of business school in Paris, has come to Sochi to help.  Martial and Bastien have opened a second cafe, Napoleon, a few blocks away on Vorovskovo Ulitsa, where they offer French baked goods. Theirs are the only locations in Sochi where one can buy a genuine French croissant.

The Brigantina, as evidenced by the photo, appeals to celebrities and political leaders visiting Sochi and is noted for offering the best and most consistent cuisine in Sochi.  Martial and Bastien are ever present, seeing to the needs of diners and assuring that all runs smoothly.   Martiall's ethic of attention to detail and, above all, the customer, is reflected in the well-trained staff.  I asked Martial, who was recently profiled in Forbes Russia, about his experiences with restaurant ownership in Sochi.  Martial said, with a laugh. that "in Russia everything is difficult, but nothing is impossible."  Martial and Bastien are planning to expand their operation to include other kinds of food service, including a bar/ cafe that will be designed to appeal to the underserved professional clientele seeking a place after work and in the evenings.  


Specialities at Brigantina include steak frites, mussels, escargot, oysters from France and live crab flow in from Canada.  The menu also offers several pasta and pizza selections and the wine list ranges from inexpensive local offerings to several very expensive Bordeaux wines.  The Brigantina stays open 24/7 and has both indoor and outdoor dining areas.