Originally Posted by Grainiac
To me it seems that mentioning any US restaurant here just proves you are really spoiled. I had several experiences with the late soviet era Russian and Polish railway station restaurants in early 80's and the culinary experiences were "remarkable". The items on the plate were named such as mashed potatoes, dumplings, ground meat burger, etc., but did not have any recognizable appearance, texture or flavor to resemble the name. However, the food was served piping hot so presumably safe, and cost less than $0.05 per plate so I emptied my plates just as you can expect a 19 year old backpacker would.
Ah well I was in the Soviet Union in 1989 and then Russia, Ukraine in 1992.
But I don't think the calorie distribution facilities on the first trip would qualify as restaurants by any reasonable definition of the term.
Now by 1992, some of the new private places were actually edible, with a tasty dish or two, although a far cry from good.
Honestly I had completely blocked the food part of my Russian trip, which I still remember fondly, from my memory. But your description is pretty much spot on, now never speak of it again