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Varvary (Barbarians), Moscow

8A Strastnoi Bulvar
Tel: 7 495 229 2800's insider take:

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.