Where’s the Beef?
Text Charles W. Borden
Photos courtesy of Beef Bar
Moscow’s new Beef Bar is a new branch of the Monte Carlo hotspot that also has locations in Barcelona and Nice. I noticed Beef Bar about a month ago when I passed several million dollars’ worth of black automobiles parked along the embankment across from the Central House of Artists near Park Kultury.
American beef has recently returned to Moscow, and Beef Bar features Omaha black angus (450-550r per 100 g, depending upon cut). Other selections include French Limousine (650-750r), Kobe beef from Australia (700-800r), and Dutch veal (300r). Beef Bar chef Carlo Grecu prepares the beef on his special grill with top and bottom burners at 900 degrees.
The restaurant’s top floor windows overlook the river. From our table, we could peer across the water at a huge Megafon banner hanging on the side of the House of Artists. Then we stared at the wine list, and discovered that, not surprisingly, Beef Bar adheres to a new trend among elite Moscow restaurants: eliminate the entry-level wines. As a result, Beef Bar’s lowestpriced whites were in the 3300r to 3600r range; reds were 5400r plus. So count on spending at least $230 to get a bottle of red to accompany your beef. We started with the Tuscan white Antinori Cervaro della Sala 2006 (5100r), which earned the highest score in Passport’s recent rating, and set aside a bottle of Australian Dead Arm Shiraz 2005 (7600r).
Chef Carlo Grecu sat with us to discuss restaurants in Moscow, beef, and his home territory, Sardinia. Grecu previously worked with France’s famed Alain Ducasse in Monaco and legendary Paul Bocuse in Lyon. Carlo came to Moscow several years ago as chef at Villa. His Beef Bar beef, appropriately dry (aged for 21 days), is sent directly to Moscow by air several times each week by Giraudi Ltd., the founders of the Beef Bar concept. Later, Vitaly Shimansky stopped by. He is the director of the restaurant group that owns Beef Bar as well as Nabi, Bistrot, and other esteemed Moscow establishments at the top of the Moscow restaurant food chain.
For starters, Carlo recommended Bamboo Salad with Angus Roast Beef (750r), which consisted of thin slices of tender beef with a mildly sweet sauce and a modest arugula salad and a few sections of bamboo heart. Other intriguing starters and entrée include Trio of Tartar with Citrus and Passion Fruit Sauce (700r), which consists of shrimp, scallop, salmon and tuna, Risotto with Morel and Scallop (950r), and Gazpacho Beef Bar (450r).
Since the beef was the main event, my companion and I decided to do a beef tasting. Chef Grecu is partial to ribeye, fatty and marbled, which produces a tender and tasty cut. We ordered a substantial portion of the Omaha black angus ribeye (450r/100g), cooked medium rare, and the Australian Kobe ribeye (700r/100g), cooked medium. I added Fried Kenyan Beans (400r) as a side.
The American beef and Australian Kobe arrived, both pre-cut down the middle for sharing. After the exchange, we dug in, and there was a considerable difference. Both cuts were impeccably prepared, tender and full of flavor. I preferred the Omaha beef hands down – the Kobe was just too fatty for my American taste buds – but either choice should be ranked at the top of the Moscow steak hierarchy, and far better than Goodman’s. For that matter, the Goodman’s steaks I have had recently have been disappointing, generally dry and tasteless, but Goodman’s certainly has a reasonably priced (in Moscow terms) wine list.
But I have another comparable. I am finishing this article in the American Midwest, after grilling 30 ounces (about a thousand grams) of tender American black angus ribeye steak, which cost a little over 10 bucks (about 250 rubles), and is so good. Accompanied by a few ears of real bicolor sweet corn that cost 25 cents apiece and washed down with a nice $15 bottle of California Zinfandel, I found the beef.