Saturday, April 16, 2005

1 Red Square, Red Square, Moscow

1 Red Square, Moscow
Saturday 16 April, 2005

Walking through Red Square in Moscow for the first time is unbelievable. The imposing walls of the Kremlin and Lenins' tomb are on one side, GUM shopping centre on the other side (yes, that's right an exclusive shopping mecca), the Disney like St Basils Church bordering one end and the vibrant red State Historical Museum at the other end. It's hard to know where to look or even where to start. Whilst appearing mildly unreal, it strangelygly beautiful.

I certainly didn't expect that one of the brestaurantsants in Moscow would be located in the State Historical Museum, but then again, Russia is a country of contrasts and after spending two weeks travelling from St Petersburg to Moscow, nothing would surprise me anymore. And, Sydney drivers, please note - we do not have traffic issues here - just try navigating the roads/ drivers in Moscow. I'm not joking, it is insane. In a hurry? Try the sidewalk. Not enough space to reverse park? Drive front in and leave the car hanging out into the road. Believe me, anything goes..but I digress.

1 Red Square impressed me from the moment we approached the State Himuseumal Musuem. Upon entering, we were welcomed with traditional Russian folklore music and a gorgeous young waiter that insisted on speaking english to us, rather than allow us to fumble our way with Russian (a very big thank you). Once seated, we were handed wonderful menus in english). A lavish red cover that when opened revealed an introduction to the restaurant, a sincere quote about the joys of eating and a story behind each dish listed. At close to 50 pages it took some time to navigate, however beautifully presented and the stories were so intriguing that we were happy to spend the better part of 20 minutes engrossed. Tales of Tsars and inclusions coronation menu delighted the tastebuds and I could not wait for the food to arrive.

The chef, A. (Alexander) N. Filin, has created an extensive menu of authentic aristocratic cuisine and determined to savour something traditional, I chose pelmenis and blinys for entrees and the Pushkin beefsteak for main. What a feast. Pelmenis are dumplings with meat fillings. I tried beef, pork and duck fillings topped with sour cream. Absolutely delicious, extremely light dumplings that melt in your mouth. Blinys are thin wheat pancakes served with a variety of toppings - caviar, salmon, honey and sour cream & dill. They were warm and so light to eat. I would highly recommend the sour cream. The Pushkin beefsteak was cooked to order and as the menu explains A. S. Pushkin wrote to his wife stating that he invited his friends in St Petersburg to a dinner of Russian botvinja (summer fish soup) and English beefsteaks.

The atmosphere at 1 Red Square was engaging with a mix of locals and tourists, the buzz of Russian and English being spoken, the satisfied satisifed guests savouring every mouthful and the delightful sounds of the live folklore music. The music was not overbearing in any way but lovely & soft in the background. However it still attracted a worthy applause after each song. The staff and service are to be applauded. My experience in Russia over the two weeks was that customer service had not yet found its way into this part of the world (tough remark I know but in many ways an understatement). The prices, whilst considered high in Russia were very reasonable with our Australian dollar. This was by far the best meal I enjoyed in Russia.


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