Claim to fame: the iPhone X of Moscow gastronomy
Reason to go: to understand what “selfie” really means
To look out for: The handsome chef and his Russia.Doc tasting menu
In 2014 the word “selfie” was included in the Oxford Dictionary; the very same year a restaurant Selfie appeared in Moscow. Which came first, nobody really remembers, but both events were definitely memorable for socialites.
Selfie is as beautiful as all selfies after filters and enhancements; no wrinkles, perfect hair and porcelain-white smiles. A ride in a glass elevator, very Instagramable in and of itself, takes you to the kingdom of immaculate light. During the day it’s natural, streaming from the huge windows overlooking Kudrinskaya square; at night it’s a feat of engineering, with spotlights masterfully arranged to illuminate the food––not selfies. Be that as it may, if you decide to take a photo with Chef Anatoly Kazakov, please have your iPhone X ready as plebeian older versions might raise eyebrows here.
Bright light comes in handy when you need to study the dishes in detail. It allows you to admire the beauty of Sakhalin’s delicately pink shrimp, paired with a wide range of bottled pink bubbles––what else did you expect at a socialite watering hole? It’s served raw with yuzu and chives, enhanced with the seduction of uni-bumps of desire, reclining on cream cheese toast, trying to cover itself with horseradish snow. Ukha, traditional Russian fish soup is a jewel with or without consommé or light; chunks of pikeperch and burbot milt look like art from every angle.
Even if you find yourself seated in the dark corner of the restaurant, you will most probably enjoy your meal. Excessively pleasurable crabmeat is balanced by millet with a macho attitude and young sorrel whose gentle acidity adds sweetness. Plump scallops are matched with chestnuts to create a beautiful duo. The taste of kisutch, not the most popular species in the salmon family, is beautifully enriched with ponzu sauce and black truffle. When this gem of a fungus is in season, Kazakov serves a whole set menu based on its flavors.
Besides à la carte options, the chef offers a “Russia.Doc” tasting set. A 12-course bonanza supported by a decent choice of Russian wines, includes various dishes from the regular repertoire, as well as surf clams with pear, tarragon and acidic wine, and a scallop- and caviar creation that pushes its umami-notes through the roof with the help of baked bone marrow and cabbage. There’s also eel with sweet potatoes and a beef tongue presentation. Unsurprisingly, all ingredients used in the tasting menu come from Russia; Anatoly Kazakov is a true terroir connoisseur, that’s where his talents are best displayed.