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Knights of the Vine RUSSIA

Restaurant Review

Charles Borden

Marcel, which is apparently the way Russians transliterate Marseille, was a pleasant surprise. The owner had extended an invitation to me. I accepted since I assumed (wrongly) that the menu was French and since Marcel was not yet on the PASSPORT radar.

I met a colleague at the Novoslobodskaya Metro station and we hiked the few blocks to Marcel’s maroon, heavy wooden doors that face Ulitsa Krasnoproletarskaya. There were large black chalkboards with handwritten news and announcements on either side of the bright entrance. I like chalkboards.

The coat check is on the left. A large handsomely designed poster announced in three languages, “Le Cabaque, Пятница, Live Musique CABARET Клыбный День” and “Face Controle.” I like cabaret.

The coat check is on the left. A large handsomely designed poster announced in three languages, “Le Cabaque, Пятница, Live Musique CABARET Клыбный День” and “Face Controle.” I like cabaret.

As I studied the menu and wine list, the owner joined us. Apparently he had previously helped put together some of Moscow’s alternative clubs: Equipage, Club Petrovich, and Art Garbage. He informed us that Marcel has been open a year but it is now undergoing a makeover. This led to a discussion about Moscow’s middle-class market, which still elusively defies definition. Marcel is searching for that market, and, if Moscow is to become a “developed” city, that is where the future lies.

I was startled by Marcel’s wine prices: decent bottles under 1000r and most under 2000r. A Vistamar (Chile) Sauvignon Blanc 2007 is listed at 950r. Wines by the glass run from 150r and up.

Chef Vladimir Godachev came to the table. He is a laureate of international national chef team competitions in Europe. His menu is eclectic European with some standards and a few innovations. In addition to the main menu there is a onepage Invitation from the Chef. Menus are bi-lingual Russian and English.

From Chef’s specials we selected Salad with Salted Salmon and Asparagus (240r) and Scallops with Spinach Covered with Cream Sauce (495r). From the main menu, I took Marseille Fresh Soup with Rui (rouille) Sauce and a Warm Bun (250r) and Tagliatelle Bolognese (190r). My colleague ordered Lamb with Crispy Eggplant (590r). The salad, was excellent: tasty, slightly salted salmon over very fresh arugula, radicchio, and other greens with slightly blanched asparagus pieces. The scallop dish was also very good, pieces of scallops swimming in a very creamy sauce laced with spinach.

Except for the warm bun, which was home baked around a dollop of cheese, I was not impressed with the soup, essentially a light broth with a few pieces of seafood and mussels. Since it carried Marseille in the name and was billed with a rouille

Ulitsa Krasnoproletarskaya Dom 16
Telephone: +7 495 232 4702
Novoslobodskaya Metro

Marcel at Passport Restaurant Guide
sauce so I expected something akin to a classic Bouillabaisse, which has its origins in Marseille. The Tagliatelle was much better and a good imitation of the traditional Italian dish. The lamb chops, from New Zealand, were also delicious.

Marcel was a pleasant discovery, a nice combination of chef-prepared menu, very reasonably priced wine list, and live entertainment. Marcel would also make a great event venue with its separate large bar area and open dining area with stage.

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