Salone del Mobile Milano

Food meets Design in Moscow

In Moscow for the Salone del Mobile.Milano Moscow and mind-boggled by the many culinary treats the city has to offer? Whatever you finally go for will probably be fine in any case because new places have sprung up all over the city over the last few years, revitalising its gastronomic scene; it does, however, have some real jewels in its crown, where evenings can be spent sampling delicacies enveloped in unique ambiances that are a perfect balance of design, luxury and classic good looks.

Here are five gourmet addresses where good cooking goes hand in hand with beautiful spaces designed with tremendous attention to detail. Well worth slotting into the diary. 

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DR. ZHIVAGO
Located in the heart of the city, between Red Square, the Kremlin and Alexander Gardens, the National Hotel is one of Moscow’s oldest hotels and the only one with five stars. Opened in 1903 and renovated in 2009,  it has always exemplified the splendours and Baroque opulence of Tsarist Russia. In this context, coming across a modern, brightly lit and almost totally white restaurant like Dr. Zhivago seems almost bizarre. But there you are. The space is a harmonious and skilful blend of classic and contemporary style, the environment elegant and the snowy white furnishings knowledgeably punctuated and enlivened by the red chairs, glasses and roses. Light plays a key role, accentuating the architectural features and creating a relaxing atmosphere. The decor and objets d’art (which include paintings by Malevich and Petrov-Vodkin) are reminders that this is an exclusive venue. The cuisine is gourmet, with a modern twist and traditional influences, determinedly local, with constantly sourced fresh ingredients. 

www.drzhivago.ru/en/

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WHITE RABBIT
Ranked 15th in the World’s 50 Best 2018, White Rabbit is undoubtedly the coolest (and best-known) restaurant in Russia. Perched atop one of the city’s many luxury shopping malls, the restaurant extends over two floors, with an upper floor encapsulated in a glass dome with breath-taking views over the city and the Seven Sisters, Stalin’s skyscrapers. The main room is large, welcoming, light-filled and eclectic. Stunning, in fact. The furnishings are a distillation of Russian spirit – comfy, luxurious and brightly coloured with an ample supply of sofas, armchairs and cushions. The restaurant boasts unique artworks that enliven and render the space particularly interesting. Chef Vladimir Mukhin’s approach to cooking is firm and decisive, a mix of bitter, sweet and bitter herbs that subvert Russian gastronomic stereotypes, those simple yet heavy dishes such as borsch and blinis or sumptuous, such as Russian salad. Vladimir takes the visitor by the hand and leads them into his very own rabbit hole, where Russian cuisine is reinvented. His flavours are redolent of Soviet history, despite the fact that his ingredients, sourced from every far-flung corner of the vast Russian territory, are entirely non-traditional. His aim is to introduce authentic ingredients to a generation overtaken by the sudden wave of globalisation. 

www.whiterabbitmoscow.ru/en/

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CRAB AND WINE
If you can’t go even a week without seafood and fish, this is the place for you. Crab and Wine sums up taste, sophistication and rhythm. Hospitality with a crucial international twist. The ideal atmosphere for a unique experience in search of excellence. There are no less than 9 varieties of crab on the menu, some never seen in the city before. As well as the Kamchatka king crab and snow crab so beloved of the Russians, there is also blue king crab, spiny crab and even a very particular variety known as hairy crab. Then there’s the wine to set off the crab (and all the fish). The lengthy wine list boasts more than 900 labels, with countless stories behind them. The design of this gourmet temple is contemporary, cosmopolitan, spare, recherché and atmospheric, punctuated by vaults and columns, with bare bricks paired with wooden furnishings, all with extremely glamorous sprinklings of turquoise and blue.  

www.en.winecrab.ru

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SEMIFREDDO
Semifreddo is one of the most authentic gastronomic outposts of Sicilian cuisine in the world, headed up by Nino Graziano, who moved here from Villafrati 13 years ago. The restaurant is welcoming, elegant, contemporary and certainly a lot less fussy than the usual Russian interior. The modern, linear space, the attention and eye for detail and the warm Sicilian hospitality offset the sophisticated and delicate cuisine, with quality and freshness as its mantra. There are no rethinks of recipes to cater to local taste, no bold pairings, just simple dishes, with the daily catch and raw materials flown in directly from Sicily. There are no compromises. Just Sicilian cuisine from one of the pioneers of the reassessment of gastronomic tradition, authentic and material. 

www.semifreddo-restaurant.com/en/

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CAFÉ PUSHKIN
If you want to take time out from design and immerse yourself in a romantic atmosphere redolent of history and poetry, Café Pushkin is the place for you. Although only opened in 1999, it is one of Moscow’s most visited and stunning places, thanks to its nineteenth-century atmosphere and the three thousand books that live there (from works by Pushkin, Tolstoy, Gogol, Chekhov and Dostoevsky to those by the great European authors such as Shakespeare, Dickens, Dante, Petrarch, Rousseau, Maupassant, Goethe and Hegel). Situated in a Baroque palace, the café contains great wooden bookcases, antique pharmaceutical counters, hand-made globes, classical mythological paintings and frescoes, bronze copies of Egyptian statues, original nineteenth-century objets d’art and soft lighting. There can be no doubt about what sort of cuisine is on offer – traditional Russian with a modern touch. It is one of Moscow’s unmissable experiences, even if it’s not your usual type. 

www.cafe-pushkin.ru/en/

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01. - 02. Dr. Zhivago
03. - 04. White Rabbit
05. - 06. Crab and Wine
07. Semifreddo
08. Café Pushkin