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Restaurant Review

Charles Borden

In the fall I watched the progress of the construction of Azerbaijan Restaurant along the Moscow River in northwestern Moscow, and by the time the first snow fell, large black cars began to appear in front of its doors. Azerbaijan is a massive two-story, dark brown building, well-marked with the name in white letters along the top. The restaurant is apparently part of a holding of twenty or so others including many other Azerbaijani- owned venues.

Lions mark either side of the door. The incredibly elaborate detailing of the interior is apparent immediately upon entering. Opposite the garderobe, a tall wall panel displays photos of Azeri President Aliyev with other dignitaries and world leaders. The entry opens into a large two-story high open dining area centered around a small dance floor. An Azeri trio performs a mix of Azeri, Russian and modern music every evening; very enjoyable and the restaurant guests were active on the dance floor. A balcony with additional tables overlooks the scene below. Azerbaijan has two private rooms. The overall impression is a luxurious, completely Azeri setting.

The menu has a huge array of traditional Azeri dishes, from salads and starters to grilled meats, poultry and fish. Baku native, and Moscow/Los Angeles resident Shiraz Mamedov joined us and helped with selections and commentary. The single distraction from the Azeri setting is the large selection of sushi at the back of the menu.

A traditional start to an Azeri meal includes a big tray of crisp, fresh veggies and sprigs of green herbs such as cilantro, basil and sorrel accompanied by a basket of breads. Our fresh veggies came with the white flour lavash that is convenient to roll around the veggies or anything else that follows. We also enjoyed slabs of dark, yeasty flat bread with sesame, great to scoop up the ikra iz baklazhan, literally eggplant caviare, a paste of eggplant, red sweet peppers, tomato and garlic. The menu has several varieties of Kutab (60r each). Kutab are small filled pastries, ours with ground meat and very puffy. They were accompanied by a generous amount of pomegranate seeds, which Shiraz recommended we stuff into the kutab before eating, a great suggestion.

Shiraz ordered two fish dishes: a plate of small Azeri river trout (370r each), and grilled filets of Kutum (350r), a Caspian sea white fish. The pan-fried river trout were a delicious snack, however the Kutum was practically inedible. He also ordered Saj Kebab, a large platter of pieces of tender beef in a dark sauce accompanied by vegetables and covered with lavash. From the dozen or so varieties of plov on the menu, Shiraz ordered a platter of Sweet Plov (280r), an acceptable and large serving of rice prepared with dates, apricots and raisins.

We have heard that Azerbaijan has some good wines but we have yet to try them, and this restaurant was no exception. The two wines we ordered went practically untouched. Otherwise Azerbaijan’s small wine selection is surprisingly inexpensive, with bottles starting at 675 rubles, and small glasses (50 gram) available.

Azerbaijan Restaurant
Demyana Bednogo, 4
(at the corner of
Karamyshevskaya naberezhnaya)
+7 499 946 3241

Azerbaijan has a separate karaoke club, also with balcony surrounding and overlooking a dance floor. The karaoke song list has over 500 pages of western songs. The club can be reserved for 3000 rubles per person, which is credited towards food and drink.

Marshrutka 586 from Polezhaevskaya metro station stops directly in front of Azerbaijan. No credit cards accepted.

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