Friday, June 29, 2007

Moscow Restaurants

My brother is going to Moscow and called to get restaurant recommendations. In the two years I spent going back and forth to Moscow I ate in a lot of very good restaurants and every time I go there I discover new great places. The scene really is exploding as if people are trying to make up for 70 years of communist drabness and dreadful food.

Below are a few of my favorites:

1 Red Square
(Russian/Czarist recreation)

This restaurant on top of the Natural History Museum is worthwhile for the view alone. North side of the Red Square over to the Kremlin and St Basil’s, not bad at all. I’ve been there a number of times and particularly like the Milk-fed veal with fried chanterelles and the Pork brisket. They also make something called a koulebiaka which is sturgeon blended with rice, cream, and spices, baked in a flaky pastry. Quite an astonishing dish.

Cafe Pushkin
(Russian/Czarist recreation)
26a Tverskoi Bulvar

I love Café Pushkin it is almost certainly my favourite in Moscow. It is the sort of pretentious, pointless place that only Moscow does well. Supposedly the restaurant is a recreation of what dinner was like at the Czarist court in the 18th century. Sure if really large sideburns where a dominant feature. Pushkin is a bit of an amusement park but the food is very good and so is the service. It is also open 24 hours a day so you can show up there at 4 in the morning and have pirozhki with some seriously scary types. I prefer the café downstairs to the formal dining rooms upstairs and if the whether is cooperating then the roof top garden is great.

Café Pushkin is a good place to have caviar and blinis, the fish soup ukha and grilled sturgeon. Anything vaguely gameish such as smoked quail and tongue and onion is done to perfection. I once had something that they called filorett or something to that effect which was meat, eggplant and tomato gratinated with cheese and very yummy.

Drink vodka, they have a very impressive selection.


Moscow is full of very good Georgian restaurants but I particularly like Genatsvale. It is load, big and very original. Veal shashlick, hachapuri (a pie filled with salted cheese), harcho (a goulash like beef stew) and anything that they roast or fry and cover in sauce is good. Last time I went they way load speakers going that where very unpleasant but they atmosphere is great non the less with huge tables full of very drunk parties doing endless toasts.

Noah's Ark
Maly Ivanovsky per. 7-9/1

This place is a bit like Café Pushkin in that it is an attempt at creating some vision of a past that never existed. A really palatial place in a sort of faux antiquity style. Food does not disappoint, however. I don’t really know Armenian cuisine well enough to know the names of stuff but shashliks, tolma in grape leaves, mutton kebabs are the sort of thing you would expect.

16 Sadovaya-Samotechnaya street

It may appear a bit pointless to seek out Italian restaurants in Moscow but they actually have some of the Italians I’ve visited. My absolute favourite is Cheese. I find the décor irresistibly funny – the ground floor is decorated to resemble the inside of a cheese – and they do some of the best simple pasta I’ve had. Last time I started with a truffle pasta, which to be fair was very expensive, that had more truffle in it than I’ve ever seen in one dish. The pasta itself was fresh and had only just been made. The only other ingredient was butter... I also had a rather large and perfectly cooked veal chop.

Cantinetta Antinori
20 Denezhny Pereulok

I think this place belongs to the same restaurateur as Cheese but unlike Cheese it is done in a very elegant and unpretentious manner. I particularly like the very intimate upstairs dining room. Everything really is very good at this restaurant although I particularly remember the octopus in red vine sauce.

No comments: