Eating in Moscow
On my recent trip to Moscow I was lucky to be staying at a hotel, the Maxima Irbis, that had a great breakfast buffet. I also had a few restaurant meals downtown. One of the best was at a place near GUM called Bulka Cafe. A filling lunch of chicken noodle soup, meat croquettes with potatoes, beet salad, bread and tea came to 230 rubles, just under $5. It was served cafeteria style, so you could just have a small salad or something if you prefer. As I was leaving I saw a large group of Spanish tourists arriving, but they seemed to be eating in a separate room that had table service.
Another afternoon I succumbed to the dubious lure of McDonald's, eager to see how it differed from the North American version. The answer was that the decor was a lot nicer and the crowd more upscale, but the menu was pretty much the same. I had to make use of my phrase book to order a fish sandwich, fries and a coke and the bill came to about 140 rubles. On Old Arbat, a pedestrian street filled with restaurants, I liked the looks of My-My (pronounced Moo Moo) with its black and white cow statue in front. This is a Moscow chain that serves Russian fare at reasonable prices. For instance, roasted salmon cost 75 rubles, as did vodka, and beef ravioli was 100 rubles.
This was altogether a different culinary experience from my only previous visit to Moscow during the Soviet era, when you were lucky to find anything at all to eat most days, and in hotel restaurants you didn't order what you wanted but asked what they had. However, even then Russians could put on a good show for special occasions, as they did at the New Year's Party in the Rossiya Hotel, the gigantic hotel that stood for decades on Red Square but is now just a construction site.