More Fish (Peshi)
Luxury restaurants continue to open in Moscow despite generally sparse post-crisis patronage. On the near-west side alone, there are four new establishments at the refurbished Ukraina Hotel (now Radisson Royal), two at the Lotte Plaza Hotel, and more in the neighboring Lotte Plaza.
Peshi, a large two-story, exceptionally well-appointed fish establishment, has joined the other west side newcomers at Kutuzovsky Prospekt 10, just past the Radisson Royal. Peshi’s amiable chef is Moroccan Safir Aziz, a veteran of sister establishment Bouillabaisse on Leninsky Prospekt, and ten years in Moscow.
Peshi’s décor consists of beige distressed wood wall panels, trim and tables, light natural fabric cushioned chairs, with accents throughout of the slightly orange red that is fashionable these days. Numerous large monitors continuously replay selected ocean themed videos. Peshi is essentially a La Maree knock-off with similar ambiance and the ocean-depleting display of fresh fish and shellfish on ice, priced per 100 grams. Customers can have their catch prepared in more than a dozen ways: grilled, baked in parchment, salt or foil, or Moroccan style to name a few.
Pavel, familiar to us from Nedalny Vostok, was our waiter. The staff was attentive, as might be expected since our host, PASSPORT publisher, John Ortega, is also a familiar figure and generous patron. The chef sent out a delightful “amuse bouche”, a spoon of chopped fresh tuna with a tall shot glass of gazpacho. We went over to check out the fresh catch-of-theday. John selected a Dover Sole, to be prepared a la Meuniere, cooked whole in butter, lemon juice and parsley. Live shellfish sat out their last hours in a large multi-level aquarium: Brittany lobster (1150r per 100g), Kamchatka crab (790r per 100g), clams, and oysters including some huge Kurile Island fellows, as much as 20 centimeters long. I decided to try a couple of the Kuriles (220r each).
I ordered from the menu: Canadian Lobster Salad with Lyonnaise Sauce (1650r), Crispy Roll-ups Stuffed with Kamchatka Crab and Madagascar Shrimp (990r) and Black Ravioli with Crab Meat and Sweet Pepper Sauce (1250r). The oysters were out first, and needed to be separated into several pieces to get down. I found them a little too “tasty” to finish. The Canadian lobster was firm and wonderful, and as good as anything I’ve had in Maine or Massachusetts. It was well matched with the fresh greens and perfect Lyonnaise sauce. The crispy roll-ups were essentially small triangular, fried spring rolls, very good, and the homemade black ravioli was also very pleasing. John was very satisfied with the Dover Sole, a real compliment since he is a regular at Le Dôme in Paris, the masters at this dish.
The menu has a few non-fish entries: Duck Leg “Confit”, Angus Fillet with Foie Gras and some meats for the grill. Surprisingly the menu lacks sushi and only has a sparse collection of shellfish sashimi.
The wine list is predominately white. We enjoyed a very good New Zealand Villa Maria Cellar Select Sauvignon Blanc (3100r). I saw Italian Cervaro della Sala listed, which I use as a wine list price index, at 8100r, for an index of 4.05.
The setting at Peshi is perfect, the service very good, the fish fresh and well and properly prepared. But I left with one nagging thought: Peshi, like many “elitny” restaurants in Moscow, reminds me of a doll at GQ Bar: she looks perfect, but will she love me, and can I love her? In this city does it matter?
Charles Borden is the Passport magazine wine and dining editor and publishes The Big Onion, a blog about the Moscow restaurant scene (www.the-big-onion.com).