Tsar’s lunch, dictator’s dinner: 3 Moscow restaurants with a history

Yar is one of the Moscow restaurants renowned both for its cuisine and history.

Yar is one of the Moscow restaurants renowned both for its cuisine and history.

Photoexpress
In the Russian capital, you can eat in the footsteps of legendary composers and writers as well as the worst of the secret police. RBTH highlights three spots where the history of the restaurant is no less important than the chief’s skills.

Yar

Today this restaurant, renowned for its traditional Russian cuisine is a particular highlight of the Sovetsky hotel. Although the restaurant, named after its French owner Tranquil Yard, opened its doors for the first time in 1826 in the very center of Moscow, at Kuznetsky most street, but moved to its current location in 1851. The hotel was built on the restaurant site almost exactly 100 years later.

Many illustrious guests have dined at Yar, including poet Alexander Pushkin, singer Fyodor Shalyapin, and writers Anton Chekhov, Alexander Kuprin and Maxim Gorky. In 1910 the building was rebuilt in Art Nouveau style, and expand to create the Big and Small halls and and an imperial lodge for Nicholas II (although he never managed to visit).

The ceiling and the walls contain picturesque early 19th century frescos, a chandelier from 1912 year and lamps from 1952 year lamps. A fountain modeled after the one in front of the Bolshoi in Theater Square graces the inner yard.

The cuisine at Yar is the best of traditional Russian fare: borscht, chicken Kiev, grilled filet of wild deer, sterlet in champagne or the renowned “Lucien Olivier salad” with three kinds of meat and crayfish tails.

32/2 Leningradsky Prospekt

http://yar-restaurant.ru/ (Russian only)

Aragvi

Source: PhotoexpressSource: Photoexpress

In April, the legendary “Aragvi” restaurant threw open its doors after 15 years of renovation. In pre-revolutionary years, the site Aragvi calls home was the Dresden hotel, whose guests once included composer Robert Shumann and writer Ivan Turgenev.

The restaurant first opened in this location, a 5-minute walk from Kremlin, in 1938. It soon became popular among the Soviet party bosses including Josef Stalin. Today, one of the restaurant’s nine halls, decorated in socialist realism style, recalls that history. It is called “Beria’s office,” after the notorious head of the secret police Lavrenty Beria, who liked to have dinner here with his mistress, who lived around the corner.

Guests to the revamped restaurant will be able to see things hidden from Stalin and Beria. During the reconstruction, builders found elements of a luxurious 17th century boyar chambers on the first floor of the building, including carefully preserved stone arches and paintings.

As in the past, the restaurant offers Caucasian and Black Sea cuisine. It’s worth trying khychins (flatbreads) with the cottage cheese and herbs and  the Azerbaijan dish syuzma-khingal (boiled dough stuffed with minced lamb, fried with onion and spices). For dessert, don’t miss the “Aragvi stones” — a mousse made from matsoni (a traditional caucasus sour milk drink) and berry juice sealed in a dark blue chocolate crust.

6/2 Tverskaya st.

http://aragvi.moscow/ (Russian only)

Savoy

Source: PhotoexpressSource: Photoexpress

This restaurant, decorated in high rococo style is located at the Savoy hotel. Soon after it opened its doors in 1913, it became a destination for actors from the Bolshoi and Maly theaters, writers and journalists.

The hotel first opened as the Berlin, but changed its name to the Savoy at the beginning of World War I. In 1958, it returned to its original name, before becoming the Savoy again following a 1987-1989 reconstruction.  

The Savoy restaurant was one of the first to offer the service now known as a buffet dinner.

One of the Savoy’s attractions is its ceiling, covered with uniquely shaped mirrors. The restaurant is still renowned for it marble fountain with many goldfish, Venetian mirrors and luxurious textiles. If you go, make sure and try the “Russian stove menu. The marbled beef sirloin with steamed turnip is especially good.

3/6 Rozhdestvenka st, bldg. 1

http://eng.savoy.ru/

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

More exciting stories and videos on Russia Beyond's Facebook page