BY RACHEL NUWER
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ULF SVANE
A group of entrepreneurial chefs are transforming Moscow into one of Europe’s most interesting and dynamic culinary destinations. Recent food sanctions mean that now Russian farmers are filling gaps in a supply chain formerly dominated by foreign goods, while a burgeoning reverence for locally sourced products rivals that of Brooklyn or Portland. Here, a few restaurants at the forefront of Moscow’s tasty revolution.
: Nouveau Traditional
To step into White Rabbit is to enter a Lewis Carroll tale – albeit one starring a Slavic Alice. The food, like the decor, is whimsical and bold, drawing on more than 600 years of Russian culinary tradition. Servers explain dishes’ historical and cultural significance, ensuring that each bite is infused not only with distinctive flavor but also meaning.
Bread made from birch-bark flour; swan liver served in traditional yogurt alongside house-made apple marshmallows and fresh berries; and roasted elk tongue dumplings with eel. Smolenskaya Square, Building 3, Floor 16.
LavkaLavka: Produce Pioneers
No Moscow restaurant better epitomizes local eating and drinking than this one. Founded in 2009 as a farm food cooperative, the establishment created its own elaborate organic certification system (Russia still doesn’t have a formal one) and introduced the capital to the concept of farm-to-table dining. The group now operates five farm stores in Moscow – perfect for stocking up on portable delicacies for long train rides – plus a cafй and two restaurants. Menus favor indigenous, heirloom produce and give shout-outs to the men and women behind each ingredient.
The “triple onion,” an appetizer composed of tiny mountains of house-made onion confit nestled among leek chips, pickled onion, and dabs of red currant sorbet; and a homey rye pasta with reindeer, lingonberries, and sun-dried tomatoes. Petrovka Street 21-2
15 Kitchen + Bar: Russian Challenge
What began as a pop-up restaurant recently settled in at what is now a hipster-filled, perpetually busy permanent location. To keep things fresh, the owners invite a different young international chef to take over the kitchen and reinvent the menu every three months.
A rich chicken liver and foie gras parfait balanced by a tart rhubarb compote, and lightly fried calamari with fresh broccoli and candied lemon. Pozharskiy Lane 15.
Voronezh: Meat Eaters’ Delight
Servers wearing red lipstick dish out 30 different types of steak at this cathedral for the carnivore. Named after the region from which the restaurant sources its beef, Voronezh spans multiple stories, which house stylish dining rooms, a casual downstairs bistro, and even a sprawling butcher’s counter for takeaway or – for some enthusiastic patrons – meat selfies.
Steak is the way to go, and the menu includes helpful flavor descriptions and notes on anatomical origins for those unfamiliar with more obscure cuts, such as tomahawk and bavette. Prechistenka Street 4 .
Lepim I Varim: Dumpling Date
Pelmeni, or Russian dumplings, have been a staple of Siberian cuisine for centuries, harking back to the days when hunters packed sacks of the bite-size morsels for long trips into the frozen taiga. While still popular today, pelmeni tend to be associated with subpar ingredients. Not so at Lepim i Varim (“Create and Boil”), a trendy cafй specializing in artisanal Siberian dumplings made to order by grandmotherly types who expertly manipulate sprawling sheets of dough.
The “Famous Shrimp” (prawns and chicken), “Tender Barbarian” (cottage cheese), and “Mom’s Siberia” (pork and beef). Stoleshnikov Lane 9, Building 1.
Syrovarnya: Cheese Connoisseurs
Located in a former brewery, this restaurant-cum-fromagerie makes five types of cheese on-site. Pick up a sandwich to go or settle in at a picnic table in the expansive outdoor space. Alternatively, the rustic, industrial-style indoor space offers diners the opportunity to watch both dinner and cheese being made in open kitchens.
Arugula and tomato salad topped with stracciatella, a pillowy, shredded cheese; spareribs with buckwheat and cabbage; or Karelian trout with potatoes and rosemary. Kutuzovsky Avenue 12, Building 1.
Just steps from the entrance to Red Square and the Kremlin, the 180-room Four Seasons Hotel Moscow
seamlessly blends Socialist-era prestige with modern elegance and comfort. Although the hotel opened its doors in 2014, the building pays homage to the historic 1935 Hotel Moskva, once a symbol of unparalleled luxury.
Also situated in the center of the city is the 208-room Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow
, a 15-minute walk from Red Square. Watch the sun set behind the Kremlin with a Moscow mule in hand at the tenth-floor Conservatory Lounge & Bar.
The Hotel Baltschug Kempinski Moscow
occupies a riverfront building dating back to 1898, and many of its 227 rooms have views of the city’s historic center. It shares an island with the former Red October chocolate factory, now home to art galleries, bars, and restaurants.
With its massive staircase and gilded, dark-wood interiors, the 334-room Ritz-Carlton Moscow
recalls Russian imperial decadence. Guests are welcomed with a mors, a traditional Russian berry drink; more beverages can follow at O2, the hotel’s rooftop lounge overlooking the Kremlin.
Originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of