Chef at White Rabbit restaurant. / facebook.com/whiterabbitmoscow
Gourmets and lovers of unusual dining experiences who are adventurous enough to take the plunge have been taking advantage of a new trend that allows them to get to see what goes on behind the scenes at a restaurant, socialize with the head chef and try his original gastronomic sets.
An idea that has been growing in popularity among the top restaurants of the U.S. and Europe, the “chef's table” is an excellent opportunity for the head chef to interact with his clients and a real chance for the boldest to leave their mark in the saturated restaurant market.
The format of this "open kitchen" provides the head chef with space for improvisation and visitors with the opportunity to be initiated into the mysteries of gastronomy. We present five of the most interesting Moscow restaurants where the format has really caught on.
The chef's table appeared in Muesli only this year with the arrival of head chef Vlad Korpusov. "I can't imagine my life without creativity," confesses Korpusov. “New ideas are constantly coming to my head."
His "New Thoughts" gastronomic set is a fantasia on the theme of Scandinavian cuisine. The names of the dishes match the theme: “Korilus,” “In Northern Waters,” “The Legend of the Lost Fennel.” Korpusov believes that in the future the format of the gastronomic set will squeeze out the a la carte menu.
"In Moscow people are spoiled, they want everything immediately. But the set implies restrictions. When gastronomic culture finally comes to Russia it is possible that the negative perception of the set will disappear."
"New Thoughts" gastronomic set is a fantasia on the theme of Scandinavian cuisine. Source: Press photo
The chef's table is designed for six people and takes place every Wednesday and Thursday.
Cost: 4,500 rubles ($70) per person. facebook.com/TheMuesliMoscow
Address: 1/15 Kotelnicheskaya Embankment, building B
The restaurant, which in 2016 occupied 18th place in the World's 50 Best Restaurants ranking, has a special space for the chef's table: the White Rabbit Lab. "Here we work on Russian tastes, products, study literature," says chef Vladimir Mukhin.
The “Forward into the Past” degustation set is created on motifs from 15th-16th century Russian cuisine. Guests come to the laboratory to participate in the degustation. "The chef's table is a format for advanced users who are interested in food not only as fuel, but in food as energy, as a creative search," explains Mukhin.
Work by chef Vladimir Mukhin. Source: press photo
The chef's table at White Rabbit is designed for 14 people.
Cost: 10,000 rubles ($155) per person. whiterabbitmoscow.ru
Address: 3 Smolenskaya Square
The restaurant, opened by businessmen brothers Ivan and Sergei Berezutsky, made it to 75th place in the World's 50 Best Restaurants ranking.
"Our chef's table is more than just a collection of products," says Ivan. "It shows that there are products that look alike on the outside but taste completely differently. It is a story about twins." For example, the externally indistinguishable Far Eastern mollusk Buccinidae and a white mushroom are served on one plate.
The gastronomic set consists of 10 positions and changes four times a year, depending on the seasonal products. "The degustation set is an event for our guests. It’s proven to be a success both economically and in terms of the idea," says Ivan.
Twins aubergines. Source: press photo
The chef's table at Twins is designed for eight people and you need to reserve in advance.
Cost: 5,650 rubles ($90) per person. twinsmoscow.ru
Address: 13 Malaya Bronnaya Street
Here the kitchen is open and it has a big bar. For each dinner florists decorate the part of the bar that is dedicated to the chef's table.
"I'm an advocate of seasonal Russian products and I like playing with tastes and ingredients," says head chef Anton Kovalkov. "But my ideas are not always suitable for the restaurant's main menu. That’s why we have the chef's table.”
Kovalkov accompanies each dish with a tale about its creation and about the directions in which contemporary Russian cuisine is heading. "The given format is intended for lovers of gastronomic experiments," he says. "The guests come with an open mind and they know that something will be very delicious and something may be rather unusual."
Dish by chef Anton Kovalkov. Source: press photo
The chef's table at Fahrenheit is designed for five people. Reservation is obligatory.
Cost: 5,000 rubles ($80) per person. rest-f.ru
Address: 26 Tverskoi Boulevard, building 2
This popular restaurant does not organize special demonstrative degustations with a chef's table, but Sergei Dushkov, the brand chef himself, is always around and is happy to socialize with visitors. Guests can order dishes from the main menu and if they wish, sit near the open kitchen in order to speak with Dushkov.
"Working with the public is a unique opportunity to understand how people for whom you are creating perceive the flight of your fantasy," he says, explaining why he is not a fan of sets.
"A set obliges you to immediately buy all the dishes. I just write on the board that you can order, for example, mussels, chanterelles or meat and then I prepare them in front of you."
The cuisine here is fusion with a Mediterranean accent, but often foreigners come to the restaurant to try its Russian dishes.
Borsch, a king of any Russian table. Source: press photo
Average price: $40 facebook.com/lesartistsmoscow
Address: 15 Neglinnaya Street
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