Good American Food in Moscow
As promised in the May issue, this month we are back with ‘Rosinter’ chains – the two in this issue are also worth mentioning for their affordable prices and nice ambiance. I am not quoting any addresses here, because the good thing about these chains is that they are everywhere. You can’t be far from a whole bunch of ‘Rosinter’ restaurants; no matter where you are, they are in easily accessible spots, and if you still want some addresses or phone numbers, check out the corporate website: www.rosinter.ru.
‘TGI Friday’s’ (check average $18) is one of the 2 ‘Rosinter’ American concepts. It was opened in 1995, and is very popular with the young crowd. The design and ambiance are as American as apple pie (which they also have on the menu, of course), and there is always some American music playing. The whole place really makes you feel like you are in high school or a freshman in college, and the service staff look it, all young and giving you the impression they are here to play, not to work (talk about work being fun). The menu offers a lot of finger food like nachos, potato skins and chicken wings for between 150 and 250 rub, and if you feel like a hearty finger food platter, go for Friday's Three For All (495 Rub) – a combination of potato skins, fried mozzarella cheese, Buffalo wings and the sauces to go with that stuff. For a more grown-up experience, I would recommend Jack Daniel's Steak (755 Rub) – a 12oz Striploin steak served with a Jack Daniel’s sauce, cheddar cheesed mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables. I really liked the sauce, the beef was Argentinean – definitely not the best in the world, but it wasn’t tough, thanks to Jack Daniels in and all over it. TGIF is also famous for its burgers and American-recipe alcoholic cocktails, so if you didn’t get enough bourbon in your Jack Daniels steak sauce, find some in a highball glass!
TGI Friday’s (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) at Passport Restaurant Guide
Il Patio (check average $20), second of the two ‘Rosinter’s’ most successful chains, formerly known as ‘Patio Pizza’ and ‘Patio Pasta’ (open in 1993), was renamed and reinvented in order to create a competitive concept which would be “more Italian and more passionate”. It’s also not just a pizza place anymore, but is positioned as “pizza, pasta, grill” and the marketing people have just launched a new ad campaign to support the menu’s theme and regional stratification. I tasted the Linguine Il Patio (390 rub) – cream sauce pasta with shrimp, scallops and mussels – very popular with the ladies. The staff claim it’s the very spirit of Italy and “Il Patio”, but I keep seeing the same recipe in all Italian and international grill restaurants all over Moscow. The sauce and pasta itself was a success, but I found the shrimp a little bit on the soft side, which indicates that they have been frozen and defrosted before making their way to my plate. That’s Moscow for you – the seafood hell. For a starter I would recommend Insalata di rucola (160 Rub) – the never-fail-to-vitaminize you rocket salad, good palate cleanser. There are also some new promising pizzas on the menu, 25-30 cm in diameter, nicely loaded, for example BBQ (270 rub), Bavarese (230 Rub). Pizzas are cooked in the charcoal stove, which definitely improves the taste. I always found Italian pop/rock music a little cheesy, but I guess you can’t avoid it, if you go to an Italian restaurant.
Next month I will be taking you on a journey through the menu, kitchen, bathrooms and storage areas of a few other restaurants that have made it on our list of Moscow’s best for under $50. We’ll look into the fridges, production lines, and the minds of the people behind the popular economical concepts.