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Restaurant Review

Text and photos Charles Borden

Tinatin is the new Georgian spirit that replaced Bagration in the sprawling three-story building just south of the South Korean embassy. The dark heavy wood that characterized the previous incarnation has been lightened up with a whitewash, and light fabrics that cover the seating and trim the windows. The Georgian musicians who livened the central dance floor with traditional tunes and renditions of pop classics are gone, replaced by soft jazz. Although the menu is still Georgian, Tinatin attracts a modern mixed, and wealthy crowd rather than the Caucasian family celebrations at Bagration.

Chef Maya Patsatsiya has been updated the kitchen as well. While the Georgian fare at Bagration was very good, recent repeat outings to Tinatin revealed superior craft, in style as well as substance. Caucasian menus are typically voluminous, and Tinatin’s is more accessible with many typical Georgian dishes, and many creative updates. Tinatin is also Moscow’s first fine dining restaurant to feature a well-selected list of the few very good wines that are made in Russia’s wine country along the northern Black Sea coast.

We had a poor start: the favorable impression that came when the hostess asked if we would like “non-smoking” faded quickly when we were shown to the tables on the second floor balcony overlooking the dance floor. Duh! Smoke rises, and not just tobacco, but also the heavy smell of grilled meat, and both permeated the area. Fortunately, Tinatin has at least one more floor, so we ascended to a table on the open third with ample, though fading daylight and fresh air.

We started with a generous plate of very fresh Seasonal Vegetables and Greens (480r)—sweet Bakinsky tomatoes, crisp Bakinsky cucumbers and radishes, sweet onion, and parsley—to which we added a helping of Four Caucasus Cheeses (750r). We also took two red bean starters: Mingrelian Lobio (300r), stewed strained red beans, and Lobio Kharkalia (320r) both with roasted with onion, aromatic spices and greens, and Spinach Pkhali (280r), a handsome presentation of three delightful soft spinach and beet patties flavored with ground walnuts, spices and other greens.

For meat we took a large grill plate — Chicken Shashlik(520r), Lamb Brisket Shashlik (930r), and Lamb Meat Shashlik (840r), Chicken Lyulya Kebab (500r), and Lamb Lyulya Kebab (610r) accompanied by several portions of grilled tomatoes(270r) and eggplant(210r).

The plusses for wine at Tinatin are a relatively low markup, the Spiegelau glasses used for service, and the knowledgeable and enthusiastic sommelier who knows his Russian wines.

Some weeks before, our host, John Ortega, had called me from Tinatin about a Myskhako Chardonnay Grand Reserve that he found on the wine list. The wine impressed him, but the price surprised him; me too.

Myskhako is a Soviet-era winery in the hills above Russia’s Black Sea resort city Novorossiysk, a favorite of Soviet leader Brezhnev. In recent years Australian flying wine-maker John Worontschak has worked to improve Myskhako’s wines, with mixed success. The whites are better than the reds, clearly demonstrated by the two we sampled this evening, the Chardonnay Grand Reserve (2800r) and a Cabernet Sauvignon (3300r). And notice the prices: the Chard, though very good, is no match for imports at that price, or even half that price. While some recognition is deserved, the price is not.

We’ve been to the best Georgian restaurants in Moscow, Suliko, Genatsvale, Bagration, all very good, but in our humble opinion, Tinatin has found a place among Moscow’s very best, irrespective of cuisine.

Our Next Dinner for Two:
Seasonal Vegetables and Greens 480r
Kutabi with Greens 200r
Lobio Kharkalia 320r
Spinach Pkhali 280r
Chakhikbili (roast chicken) 480r
Gai-Kodzor (Kuban, Russia) Viognier 1800r
Total 3560r

Ulitsa Plyoshchenko 58
Tel +7 (485) 761 3800

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