Text Charles Borden, photos Andreas
“There’s a hot new restaurant on Kutuzovsky. They have a concert tonight and the tables are sold out, so let’s go!” With that we arrived at restauranteur Kiril Gusev’s ANDREAS, located in the space formerly occupied by the flagship restaurant of Moscow’s king of molecular gastronomy Anatoli Komm. Komm was one of the city’s most expensive with a prix fixé dinner that was dominated by Komm’s foamy creations.
ANDREAS is set off the right side of Kutuzovsky as you head out of town. Turn right in the alley just past the Azbuka Vkusa, follow the road around to off-street parking; otherwise take your chances with the evakuator (towtruck) if you park along Kutuzovsky. Decorated with streamers of multi-colored lights, the restaurant stands out against the dark backdrop of surrounding buildings.
Up the stairs to the second floor, the large subdued and elegant dining area overlooks the courtyard towards Kutuzovsky, fairly quiet at 6pm. In the back stands a large bar with its own dining area. We had until eight when all tables were sold out for the Uma2rmaN concert – we were seated directly in front of the drum set.
Gusev also runs RAI, one of Moscow’s hot nightspots and apparently ANDREAS is Gusev’s pre-RAI-party meeting place. The chef is Sergei Radjabov, a veteran of Komm’s establishment, but his menu appears to be foam-free with relatively straight forward menu of the chef’s interpretation of Moscow favorites: Caesar salad, carpaccio, seabass, Kamchatka crab, steak and a sushi selection.
We first checked the wine list, which included some supermarket wines such as Casillero del Diablo Syrah (1500r) and Hardy’s Stamp Collection Semillon-Chardonnay 2007 (1500r), but peaked with a 1993 Chateau Petrus (350,000r). Though the low-end wines are priced at 5-6 times Sedmoi Kontinent, it was nice to see a selection of “affordable” wines on the list; many of Moscow’s top restaurants lowest priced are already stratospheric. To start, we ordered Cusumano Jalé 2007, a Chardonnay that we favored in last month’s Sicilian wine review.
We tried an assortment of starters: Snails “Boulot” Baked in Parmesan Cheese (700r), “Vongole” Mussels with Tomato Sauce (1100r) and a double order of jamon (1400r per 100g). Boulot are French sea snails, and six of them were presented, to be extracted with escargot fork and tongs. The boulot were firm and tasty with the accompanying plum-like sauce. The Vongole mussels were cockles, as indicated by the term “vongole” but of course were not mussels. The jamon was a selection of several very thin sliced dry-cured Spanish hams presented with huge, green olives.
I also ordered a Risotto with Cep Mushrooms and White Wine Sauce (950r), prepared just right, creamy and delightful. The Caesar Salad with Chicken, a relatively small salad presented in a pasta basket, was pronounced “satisfactory.”
Several guests ordered the chef recommendation, Steak “Andreas” (1500r), and others the Tuna Steak with Rucola Salad (900r) and Roast Beef with Sauteed Asparagus and Mustard Sauce (900r). In Moscow it is often necessary to order “mediumrare” to get a medium steak, still pink in the middle, and this was the case at ANDREAS. Komm’s Kupol produces one of Moscow’s best steaks and Chef Radjabov must have learned this skill – his steaks challenged the master, tender and juicy – perfect! One guest even went for seconds. Unfortunately, the guest that ordered the “Roast Beef,” really a thick fillet asked for medium and it came out practically inedible. The tuna steak, while reasonably good, seared both sides and mostly pink, demonstrated that it’s difficult to beat seaside dining for fresh fish.
As eight approached, management accommodated and,
at 10,000 rubles a seat, moved our growing crowd to a corner near the table of the Governor of one of Russia’s regions and another with the head of one of Russia’s top grocers. I headed home before the festivities that included not only the pop sensation Uma2rmaN but a follow-on by opera singer turned pop star Nikolai Baskov, I did at least score one of the fancy concert promo Uma2rmaN CDs on my way out.