"Crimea has become even closer!” announces the front page of the menu at Krymskaya Kukhnya, a new eatery between the Paveletskaya and Dobryninskaya metro stations. The interior tries to reimagine a Soviet-era resort cafe, with shells made from plaster decorating the walls and maritime-inspired wall paintings.
Opened by Ivan Ilyin, a relative newbie to the restaurant business, Krymskaya Kukhnya is the result of a two-month long research trip to Crimea. Alongside gorging himself on the best Crimean food, Ilyin also met with local restaurateur and traditional cuisine enthusiast Oleg Kolondyrts, who helped him put a menu together. Given that Crimean cuisine is the product of more than one cooking tradition, just as Crimea is inhabited by a number of ethnic groups, the menu is eclectic.
Historically, Crimean cuisine is that of krymchaks, the local Jewish population. Start with the hearty krymchak soup accompanied by pheasant dumplings and baked potatoes (290 rubles). Alternatively, try yantiks — a cross between a fried dumpling and a samosa which comes with a variety of fillings including veal (390 rubles) or potatoes (290 rubles).
Another significant contribution to Crimean cuisine comes from the Crimean Tatars. Their dishes are similar to those of the Volga Tatars, but with the addition of some traditional Central Asian dishes adopted during their mid-20th century exile. Try the Crimean Tatar version of dolma with baked corn and “Sevastopol sauce” — a version of tzatziki — or the Tatar style stewed lamb with spices and Crimean plums called “izumeriki,” which are reminiscent of grapes.
The menu is complemented by a number of Black Sea specialties. Don’t miss the rapa whelks. Here you can eat them either in a tomato-based sauce (590 rubles) or a rich cream sauce (690 rubles).
Various Crimean beers are available, named after all the major towns on the peninsula — Simferopolskoye, Sevastopolskoye and Yaltinskoye (from 250 rubles). And of course, Crimea has always been better known for its wine, which you’ll be able to try in December once the restaurant’s licensing comes in.