Moscow, flowing in oil money, has become obsessed with eating out and many restaurants are openand packedaround the clock. Well-traveled Muscovites and frustrated foodie expats like to bemoan the fact that elaborate decor and exorbitantly high prices are just as likely to draw crowds as truly good food. But when it comes down to it, they still follow the parade of beautiful people to see and be seen like everyone else. Some of the city's pricey restaurants are worth the price for a peek at Moscow's bling (Galereya), a great view (Bosco Bar and Bosco Café), or one-of-a-kind setting (Turandot), and sometimes even for the food. But you can find ways to eat inexpensively without risking your stomach. There are a number of decent cafeteria-style chains (this being the new Russia they have elaborate themes, such as Belle Époque Paris at Grabli and cows at Moo-Moo) and some restaurants offer set-price buffet meals in addition to à la carte (the Azerbaijani cuisine at Shesh-Besh is fresh, with lots of vegetables and cheese).
As you get set to dine in Moscow, keep in mind that sushi and pasta, not blini and borscht, are the Russian capital's current standard in dining. Many of the chicest restaurants offer Asian and Italian menus, and often a fusion menu as well, with some Russian fare either thrown in for tradition's sake or reinterpreted to the core. Molecular borscht (prepared as small spheres), for example, is one of the offerings at Anatoly Komm's Varvary (Barbarians) restaurant. Barbarians is also the city's first "by reservation only" restaurant. Theoretically, you can saunter into glamorous places like Galereya and GQ Bar (5 Baltschug Ul.; 7-495-956-7775; bar.gq.ru), but make sure you drive up in a fancy car and wear your designer best. Even if you have a reservation, you might not get in if the door staff doesn't deem you beautiful or stylish enough. Under no circumstance should you wear sneakersthe oligarch ahead of you might be wearing them, but if you try there's a good chance they'll send you home.
As Moscow's restaurant scene develops, certain neighborhoods are becoming known as foodie destinations: There seems to be a restaurant at every stop in Patriarch's Pond (which was the setting of Mikhail Bulgakov's classic novel The Master and Margarita), and Savvinskaya Naberezhnaya, a textile-factory neighborhood on the banks of the Moscow River, has gentrified into an industrial-chic hub of restaurants and boutiques.