2016 brought to Russia and the world, the year delivered at least one
terrific benefit: a slew of great cafes, coffee shops, and restaurants
in Moscow. This year the emphasis was on fast and cheap (and delicious),
Asian (can’t get enough of it), and innovative Russian (stretching the
boundaries of Slavic cuisine). Another great thing: more restaurants and
dishes for vegans, vegetarians, and folks with food allergies. Here are
our staff’s top picks for the year. But look back in our archives for
another hundred or so new and recommended eateries. Happy dining!
Best new fast food
Chicken Run is the first place in Moscow where you can get gourmet quality food on the cheap. Tender chicken breast with quinoa garnish will only cost you 370 rubles, as will the chicken tandoori style with potato mousse and smoked cheese. Chicken liver salad with honey and mustard sauce is also great (290 rubles), as well as fried sweet corn with soy sauce or mashed potatoes with pesto (120 and 150 rubles). Plus there’s craft beer and home-made lemonades with unusual favors like aloe or orange and almond (150 rubles). Note that after 6 p.m. Chicken Run turns into a sit-down rather than self-service restaurant.
Wine & Crab
Best classy night out
Masterminded by the trailblazing twin Berezutsky brothers, Wine & Crab caused quite the buzz when it opened its regal terrace this summer. The ethos here is to do one thing and do it well — although there are actually a staggering seven types of crab on the menu. From a Kamchatka crab salad to King crab phalanx — that’s the legs to you and me — each dish is a work of art in terms of presentation alone. Pair with a bottle from the monumental wine list for a very special date night.
Best new Russian cuisine
Severyane is the latest collaboration of Ilya Tutenkov and Uilliam Lamberti, a stellar culinary duo. The chef is Georgy Troyan, last year’s winner of the Silver Triangle award as Russia’s best chef. Severyane uses a huge traditional Russian oven for grilling everything. The starters menu is very innovative: try lamb tongues with beetroot and horseradish sauce (700 rubles). The not-to-miss main dish is pike perch grilled in the Russian oven served with cabbage and marinated radish (750 rubles). All the garnishes also come grilled in the Russian oven — the best are celery and cauliflower (300 rubles each). Try some of the Severyane’s trademark cocktails (from 350 rubles), and don’t leave without one of the desserts, like persimmon with oatmeal ice cream (350 rubles).
354Best and highest view in Europe
A new project by two restaurant empires — Chaikhona #1 and GINZA, 354 is not just another “top of the world” bar. First, at 354 meters it’s the highest restaurant in Moscow and the highest open patio-transformer in Europe. Currently it has been transformed into the highest skating rink, but will turn back into a patio come spring. One floor below is the restaurant Ruski with an innovative Russian menu, including potato pancakes with marinated smelt fish (korushka) for 320 rubles, traditional dumplings (vareniki) with potatoes and fried onions (370 rubles), as well as millet porridge with pumpkin and crab (370 rubles) and home-made vodka infusions (270 rubles). While feasting, make sure to use the viewing platform!
Best for meat-lovers
This year Fyodor Tardatian and Maxim Livsi, best known for the “black” Ferma burger, finally made it into the big leagues. They opened Brisket BBQ together with Arkady Novikov, Moscow’s most famous restaurateur. It’s a Texan style barbecue with meat prepared in a special smoker. The main dish is the eponymous brisket — a whole dish of brisket (750 rubles), a smaller portion with mashed potatoes and gravy (650 rubles), or a “brisket burger” (430 rubles). There are also Texan sausages: chicken and cheese or beef and pork (each for 420 rubles). You can get BBQ Trio: half a portion of brisket, one sausage and a pile of pulled pork (860 rubles) — try all the specialties at once.
Best for Georgian-food lovers
Andrei Dellos — the man behind Cafe Pushkin, Turandot and the ubiquitous MuMu cafe chain — opened Kazbek this year to much fanfare. Inspired by his childhood holidays in the Caucasus, the restaurant aims to make you feel like the guest of honor at a Georgian family feast. The kitchen is headed by young Tbilisi chef Mamiya Jojua, and with Jojua’s mother as sous-chef, it’s very much a family affair. Order a perfectly golden Adzharian khachapuri bursting with cheese and crowned by an egg and pair with a glass of fruity red. The waitstaff wear charming traditional costumes in a nod to Old Georgia.
Bao & Bar
Best quick eats
Bao & Bar is an ode to the humble pillowy steamed buns popular across Asia. The bao come in seven varieties, each more sticky and delicious than the last. Portions are small but prices are low, encouraging you to try a variety of dishes from the menu. The winner has to be the pork belly bao with kimchi, crispy onion and hoisin sauce, but that should still leave you room for a steaming bowl of ramen or some teriyaki beef. The airy, plant-filled interior is a joy to behold.
Best coffee in town
Surf Coffee started in a mysterious place far from Moscow — the management won’t reveal where. The chain then started spreading around the country and finally came to the capital this year, bringing a sunny seaside mood Moscow clearly lacks. Their first Moscow outlet on Myasnitskaya Ulitsa is a little more than a beach hut decorated with bamboo and surf boards. They now also have outlets at Artplay Design Center and on the Arbat. Surf’s flat white is one of the best in the city and, at 150 rubles, one of the cheapest. There’s also a menu of smoothies. Surf Coffee promotes a healthy lifestyle and has its own clothing line.
Best for foodies
Tehnikum is a new restaurant by the White Rabbit group and its chef and founder Vladimir Mukhin. Tehnikum was conceived as a more accessible version of White Rabbit, which recently became No. 18 on the list of the world’s top 50 restaurants. The first thing you see when you enter Tehnikum is a huge mural of a kitchen by popular street artist Dmitry Aske. The menu is very innovative. Start with cold salad with avocado, radish, and pear (350 rubles) or grilled pastrami with cilantro and Japanese ponzu sauce (650 rubles). For the main dish try delicious duck breast with Chinese black venere rice and pear (850 rubles). And as a dessert order Georgian dumplings made with mascarpone and mango (350 rubles).
Best for sushi fanatics
Contemporary, slick and achingly stylish, Cutfish is one sushi joint that Moscow should be proud of. The beautifully crafted hand rolls show the obsessive precision of the kitchen, but the other items on the menu are equally enticing, particularly the perfectly pink duck breast with apple puree. It’s a little on the pricey side, but the service and food won’t disappoint. Think minimalist decor, an open kitchen and lashings of wasabi.
Best for vegetarians
Named after a sentient, extraterrestrial tree-like creature from the “Guardians of the Galaxy” series, Groot is out to prove to diners that raw food needn’t be guinea pig food. Head chef Alexei Malykhin keeps his dishes free from anything processed, but they still taste great. Pair the “El Macho” burrito (black beans, peppers, pineapple, fresh guacamole and salsa) with a detox smoothie for a guilt-free start to the day. The earthy tones of the interior perfectly match the restaurant’s ethos.