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Moscow Restaurants

Bosco Bar and Bosco Café
3 Red Square
GUM Department Store, Ground Floor
Russia 103012
Tel: 7 495 627 3703 (bar)
Tel: 7 495 620 3102 (café)

Named after a fashion label and luxury importer and designed by Andrea Stramigioli and Sean Dix (an Italian architect and American designer known for their retail designs), Bosco Bar has a 1970s psychedelic feel, with bright splashes of color and funky plastic furniture. It's a bit pricey, but so is all of Moscow, and you're paying for the location: right on Red Square. Come to Bosco Bar for a lunch of celery cream soup and arugula with Gorgonzola, or a Caesar salad (a new Moscow standard), or better yet, grab drinks, a sandwich, or a scoop of designer ice cream (flavors include tomato-basil) just before dusk to watch the sun set over St. Basil's Cathedral. For a more formal meal, follow GUM's facade away from St. Basil's and dine at the more formal Bosco Café, where the waiters wear jackets and bow ties and the decor is in cream-colored linens. The Italian menu includes carpaccio and risotto, as well as some Russian specialties such as beef Stroganoff. Desserts include chocolate torte with raspberry sauce and grapefruit yogurt parfait, and they make a killer Irish coffee. Lenin, of course, would have despised this place, so while you sip your costly cocktail, enjoy the view of his tomb and muse on the twists and turns of history. Both Bosco Bar and Bosco Café have summertime outdoor seating area that opens directly onto the square.

Open daily 10 am to 11 pm.

Café Pushkin
26A Tverskoy Bulvar
Russia 125009
Tel: 7 495 739 0033

The Pushkin Café is open and buzzing, 24/7. By day, the well-to-do and middle-aged lunch on caviar and blini. When they have gone to bed, night owls come here looking for dinner at 1 am; still later, exhausted clubbers stop in for breakfast. Given the prerevolutionary decor, including French windows, high ceilings, and shelves of ancient books, you may feel a bit like a character in a Russian novel yourself. The waiters, who tend to sport impressive sideburns, offer prompt service, and the Russian menu is high-priced but hearty.

Open 24/7.

Carré Blanc
19/2 Ulitsa Seleznevskaya
Russia 127473
Tel: 7 495 258 4403

This expensive, classy eatery, established by French expats, is among the city's best (then president Putin hosted a New Year's party here). Its name is inspired by Malevich's work and by the restaurant's square white plates. The excellent food is classic French: Try the scallops glazed in balsamic vinegar to start, and veal fillet in a sauce of shallot confit and orange zest with stuffed mushroom gratin. The 700-bottle wine list is encyclopedic. Elegant and candlelit, the dining room is perfect for a date—particularly since oysters are delivered from France four times a week. Although this practice is unusual for Moscow, you may order dishes in half portions if you wish to taste a selection. If you're trying to conserve rubles, tapas and sherry at the bar or a simpler meal in the bistro area are slightly cheaper than eating in the main dining room.

Open daily noon to midnight.

27 Ulitsa Petrovka
Russia 127031
Tel: 7 495 937 4544

This hot spot is a creation of Arkady Novikov—the king of the Moscow restaurant scene. Photographic exhibitions give the venue a creative edge—its full name is actually Art-café Galereya—but people are mostly looking at each other. Moscow's beautiful people come here to see and be seen and block the road outside with their Mercedes and BMWs. If your face doesn't fit—too old, too fat, too lacking in Dolce & Gabbana—you won't get in here. Galereya is not gourmet, but everything, from the tuna tartare to the mashed potatoes, is superb.

Open 24/7.

Suliko na Patriarshykh
7 Yermolayevsky Pereulok
Tel: 7 495 650 4189

For all the fondness Muscovites and expats have for Georgian food (Russians do love the cuisine, geopolitics notwithstanding), Georgian restaurants in Moscow tend to make excessive efforts at rustic kitsch and serve huge, greasy portions of regional specialties such as walnuts, beans, and suluguni cheese. But Suliko na Patriarshykh is, essentially, a tapas restaurant that happens to be Georgian rather than Spanish. The brick walls, pastel trim, and soft jazz in the background lend it a wine bar feel, and the rustic touches are limited to folk scenes hanging on the walls. Georgian wines are still banned in Russia, but there's a long list of French and Italian bottles as well as house wine by the jug billed innocuously as "southern Caucasian." There's an equally lengthy selection of khachpuri (Georgian cheese bread) in addition to other Georgian favorites such as satsivi (chicken in walnut sauce) and lobio (a bean dish). Portions, which may appear small, turn out to be just right for such substantial food. The best seat in the house is a table by the picture window overlooking Patriarch's Pond, one of Moscow's urban oases.

26/5 Tverskoy Bulvar
Russia 125009
Tel: 7 495 739 0011

Turandot epitomizes the excesses of modern-day Moscow. But that's no surprise considering owner Andrei Dellos's previous ventures: He is the man behind Café Pushkin and Shinok, a (now shuttered) restaurant that re-created a Ukrainian peasant yard—milkmaid, live farm animals, and all. Gilded, and covered in frescoes, carvings, and authentic Louis XIV antiques, Turandot looks like a chinoiserie-inspired palace lifted from St. Petersburg. The equally glittery crowd is a slice of the new Russian upper crust: oligarchs, film studio directors, and provincial nouveauxriches on a Moscow jaunt. Alan Yau, of London's Hakkasan fame, oversees the kitchen, which turns out the city's best dim sum (now a staple of Moscow's priciest eateries), including lobster tempura. There are also entrées, such as king crab in a sauce of borscht and 20-year-old Chinese wine. One of the few misses is the huge rooftop terrace (it resembles a suburban garden center filled with froufrou deck furniture), but it's still worth a visit for the wild scene of it all. If you plan on eating heartily and having more than a sip of wine, be prepared to spend at least $150 per person.

Open daily noon to midnight.

Varvary (Barbarians)
8A Strastnoi Bulvar
Tel: 7 495 229 2800

Molecular borscht or blini? A fixed-price menu at $280 a head (not including wine, which runs up to $29,000 a bottle)? Are you kidding?! With their obsessive decor and astronomical prices, Moscow's high-end restaurants are usually ripe for mockery. But Varvary, or Barbarians, Russia's answer to El Bulli, seems to be in on the joke. Opened in early 2008, the dining room is a cross between a louche nightclub and an exquisite black-lacquer souvenir box and has a fabulous view over Moscow's rooftops. Depending on the season, Varvary offers one or two set meals—a seemingly endless parade of sci-fi interpretations of Russian classics. Kholodets (jellied mincemeat) might be paired with carrot ice cream. Boiled potato with onion and herring, a Russian staple, is arranged to resemble a miniature stone garden. Moscow ice cream with jam is a freeze-dried concoction. Anatoly Komm, Varvary's creator, is a geophysicist who got rich importing Versace and other luxury goods to Moscow in the 1990s; he has described Soviet cosmonauts' food as one of his inspirations. The service, by the way, is out of this world.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.