Dodo


Rabbit ragout

Thanks to bare luck and Foursquare we have found the nest or Dodo bird in Moscow. The place is equally good for a family dinner and girls night out. The high chair for children is designed the way it fits very conveniently in your table so your toddler does not feel lonely and can grab most of the stuff from the table. Ginger spiced meatballs and rabbit ragout were above the average. I would expect the rest of their stuff to be equally good, most likely because of the high quality ingredients. Try and let me know.

The wine list is not too varied so we decided to make a safe bet and pleased ourselves with a bottle of Simonsig’s Chardonnay followed by two helpings of Shiraz from the same winery. “Confusticate and bebother these dwarves!”, I still don’t understand why exactly all the red wine by glass in Moscow should be 5-6 degrees above an acceptable temperature. I assume it is something to do with an absolute and utter greed. Poor restaurant owners (exception being Grand Cru, Aromi la Bottega, Ragout, Dissident and some outrageously expensive places) can afford only wine cabinet per venue. All open red wine bottles are doomed to sit and sweat on a shelf suffering what they call Room Temperature. Damn dwarves.
But we forgive them all after the marvelous apple tarte tatin with Calvados ice cream and chocolate donuts. Will be back soon to get more of these.

Apple tarte tatinLocation: Petrovka Street, 2, Moscow, Russia, 105187, +7 903 105 10 10

Website: http://dodoproject.com

Golubka


Mini-burgersGolubka (The Dove) is one of my personal favorites among the Moscow restaurants. The interior will bring you back to old Moscow, not the dusty one, but to the tasteful and gorgeous spirit of Soviet Russia. I liked the way they’ve put all this retro accents into places without making it too soviety (comparing to the Petrovich club which is a total disaster and Glavpivtorg which makes you feel like you dining at the library) and in the same time it actually feels nostalgic.The 3 owners: Sergey Pronin, Sergey Shpigovsky and Gleb Govorov made a really good job here.

PastaThe place is actually 3-in-one: there are bar Bucharest upstairs, delly-shop and café “Golubka” itself. Focusing on the café part, I must say it worth a shot. The menu is not too large but gives you a nice selection of meat and fish meals as well as splendid deserts (pastry chef here is a star). We tried mini-burgers: every one had a different sort of meat in it and tasted good, well, ok, two out of three tasted good. There a lot of good stuff to try here and the value is lower than you’d expect for that sort of quality.

Oh and we had a nice surprise as  The Dove is an only place in whole Moscow where we have discovered the Aperol! This pretty famous Italian aperitif was impossible to find in Russia even in a good bars with a large stock of various liquor. So we had a Spritz (a cocktail based on Aperol) which a bit too much ice as for my taste and note that the Soviet Champagne cannot replace Prosecco no way.

There are good selection of wines and Ayala is available by glass, which is a rare case for the sunny Moscow.

Website: http://www.golubka-moscow.com

Location: Bol’shaya Pirogovskaya ulitsa, 53/55, Moskva

Probka


Carpaccio di pesceProbka (The Cork) is pretty nice place to visit and one of the musts of StPb wine scene. There are 2-in-one places – they have classy restaurant Il Grappolo upstairs where no kids are allowed in the evening as well as your pet or your cigarette wouldn’t be welcome anytime. Thank you people for not allowing smokers, what an astonishing idea in a smelly and foggy Russia, look restorators, no smoking aboard and still crowded! The actual wine bar is occupying the ground and half of the first floor. Of course you can choose meals from both menus and be happy with your choice.

The wine-per-glass selection is very good: 9 different whites, 12 reds and couple of rose and sparkling including portuguese vinho verde and some quite intriguing ones from New World, South Africa in particular. Specifically I’d recommend Lugana Bertani, Rias Barixas DO Albarino Leira Pazo Pondal and Pinotage Barista. All per-glass wines are generously served in a glass carafe, adding a nice touch. Waitstaff is surprisingly knowledgeable about the wine or it was me so lucky. One thing that I would make them to learn is the fact that red wine shouldn’t have a temperature of 24C. Thats might be a perfect environment for a human body but please don’t give a fever to the wine! At least ask the client if he or she cares about it. Oh, one more thing. I was complaining about Moscow that no one had heard about Aperol there, but in SPb it’s the other way around, I was enjoyed my Spritz which was quite a nice surprise.
Ragu di coniglio Vekio Rovereto

As for food it’s absolutely de-li-ci-ous and was worth waiting for 40 min (large group of people were served in the same time). We tried Carpaccio di pesce – salmon and tuna mix with citrus, Finatsera (risotto con fegatini di pollo) – less interesting but still nicely done. My choice would be Ragu di coniglio Vekio Rovereto – juicy, tender and truly melt-in-your-mouth. Sorry I have to take a break and eat something before my memory will make me do a raid into the fridge.

I like it here, really. The place is rightfully proud of itself and has a special hall where all it’s awards is on display. Clap-clap, good job.

Location: 5 Belinskogo street, Saint-Petersburg, Russia. +7 (812) 273-49-04

Website: http://www.probka.org/

Marché de Provence


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I did not visit Vilnius for a couple of years and my instant intention was to dine in the good old La Provence. But a reliable local source suggested Marche de Provence. And I do not regret a bit. It is run by the same owner – Arūnas Oželis. The same brave guy who opened a true gourmet place in Vilnius back in 2006 or 2007 (subsequently closed due to a complete lack of demand but I still have very good memories from my one and only dinner in DOMM :)

Back to Marché de Provence. People who speak Provençal probably will tell you the place has nothing to do with their home province. But who cares. Marché de Provence is on the very top of my Vilnius restaurant list now. You can find it right next to the prominent Rue Pilies, not far from Hotel Narutis. We did not book in advance (it was an early Tuesday evening) but with a bit of luck we got al fresco table for two in a lovely patio (they have more tables on a smallish terrace facing a small square and Pilies street).

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We started with a bottle of a nice Vermentino Poggio del Sasso (15 EUR), not too sophisticated but enjoyable by all means. Actually this Vermentino commend DWWA 2012 and we were not disappointed at all. There are lots of good wines on the MdP list including some reasonably priced bubbles.

We both had Soupe de Poissons Provençal style (15 EUR) as a starter. It was absolutely delicious, not too spicy and with a perfect texture too. Main course was above my expectations. I had the Chilean Sea Bass (15 EUR) as my main course. It was buttery, tender, and coated in a delicious marinade, and it instantly flaked apart when my fork touched it. Friend of mine had Octopus (15 EUR) which is one of their signature dishes; beautifully presented and as good as it gets in Vilnius. I must try it next time.

Service was prompt and efficient with a smile but no extra chatting. Total damage: 65 EUR for two. I must say Marché de Provence absolutely fits my bill and I wish them further success for the years to come. Well done Commander!

Address: Pilies 27, Vilnius, Lithuania +370 686 777 07.

Grand Cru


Duck ravioli with beat mousse and mushrooms

The new Grand Cru is located in the Gorod Stolits (The City of Capitals, I know this sounds a bit absurd) business center. This venue was created specially for wine aficionados and keep pleasing them with a huge selection of wines. Well if you are true connoisseur I’m sure you know the place by now, but if you are about to become one, that’s the place you must start with. This particular venue might be a little tricky to find for the first time but I hope the GC people already took care of this little inconvenience. The place is quite small but the design is very appropriate – they didn’t put two and a half tables but they’ve put a round table similar to the bar counter and as your meal is ready you’ll be able to see the final stage of the preparation, which is exciting. The food is perfectly paired to the wine, whatever you find on the wine shelf there will be a good companion on the menu.

Fried artichoke with cuttlefish, choriso and the light lime sauceI liked the Fried artichoke with cuttlefish, choriso and the light lime sauce – nice presentation, great taste. The Veal pasta with Barolo foam was less interesting from my point of view, but Duck ravioli with beat mousse and mushrooms definitely straightened things out. We were advised to have a Litchi mousse with a light honey cake and rose leaves ravioli inspired by Gewurtztraminer, but it appeared quite plain, next time I think I’ll try pannacotta instead.

The bar has been set pretty high and the new Grand Cru surely maintain the right level. If you really want to avoid any kind of unpleasant surprises during your dinner and enjoy wine and fare – consider GC.

Website: http://www.grandcru.ru/

Location: 8, Presnenskaya naberezhnaya, Gorod Stolits business center  +7 (495)510-6565

Di Vino


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One would not expect something like DiVino restaurant in Donetsk. Italian Haute Cuisine in the eastern part of Ukraine is rather unusual thing. DiVino is surprisingly friendly place if you compare it to similar venues in Kiev or Moscow. I would say it is very trendy, smart but not posh, if you know what I mean. Head chef Luciano Casale has done a very good job to make the food stand out in a chic DiVino interior. Yet you are not depressed by too much of expensive stuff around you. Service is very good for Ukraine, something you take for granted in London or Reims still is not a common practice in Ukraine. Probably they have more wait staff then needed even when it’s crowded.

Luciano’s fare is innovative and vibrant. There’s certainly nothing rustic about the food here – it screams brilliance and refinement.We had duck with ravioli & pineapple carpaccio and veal with mushroom sauce. Both meals were beautifully executed and presented. As for desserts we had DiVino selection of cheeses. You can buy their cheeses and prosciutto to take away.

20120612-220902.jpgThere are no New World wines on the DiVino list, but it is fine by me. Italian food perfectly goes with Old World anyway. They have about 120 wines from Italy, Spain and France including a fairly good selection from Champagne – usual suspects plus my personal favourite Billecart-Salmon Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru and rare Philipponnat Clos des Goisses. As for reds I would go for Ch Pontet-Canet ’98, very Pauillac in style and definitely ready to drink or Ch Pavie-Macquin 2001 if you prefer the right bank. I hope they keep their wines in a good shape in DiVino. Please be prepared to pay as much as in Singapore or Dubai as no good wine comes at affordable prices in Ukraine and Russia. Budget wines are available by glass, ask your friendly waitress to show the daily specials.

Address: 29 Pushkina blvd, Donetsk, Ukraine

Website: http://divino.com.ua/

 

La Semeuse


La Semeuse DonetskThere are two La Semeuse venues in Donetsk. One is located on the Lenin square and the other one is inside of Donetsk City shopping mall. La Semeuse in Donetsk is not the only place where you can find those coffee shops, it’s a Swiss brand and it’s as good as Swiss watch. In addition to that venues in Donetsk have a strong Latvian flavor (which is a good thing).You have pictures of Riga all over the place and a prominent Vecriga cakes.

Semeuse latte

The level of service way above the average for Donetsk, very friendly and helpful staff so hopefully you will feel as good as in your favorite coffee shop back home.  Not only they have a good coffee but a professional barrista too. On top of that you can have a great breakfast with a croissant or quick lunch with a glass of wine. I recommend their panini which come in different flavors. Wash it down with a lovely espresso, read a magazine and write an e-mail back home about your experience as they have a free wi-fi.

If you happened to visit the venue in shopping mall you can memorize your experience in writing on a small plate hanging on the wall. Please note that both places are relatively small and if you are more than four in a group, there are might be not enough room for all.

Address: 3, Ilyicha ave, Donetsk, Ukraine.

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