Up-market Sports Bar, with Down-market Prices
Liga Pap is an eye stopper. You have to shake your head in mild disbelief as you walk into this pub-restaurant cum sports bar on Bolshoi Lubyanka ulitsa and find yourself confronted with a marriage between 200 year old wooden beams and arched brickwork vaults with hi-tech TV screens and glass panels etched with sporting figures. The overall effect is pleasing and the integration of the leather padding on the walls and the many screens with the traditional architecture of old Moscow is skilfully done.
The main room rises with tiered seating beyond the bar, giving a stadium atmosphere to the place and affording sports fans, dining at the tiered counters, an unimpeded view of the big screen suspended over the bar area.
There is a side room with its own bar, and indeed, its own entrance from the street. Downstairs is yet another room, frequently used for private parties.
We sat in the side room where the large arched window gives a view out on the gold and green domes of the Sretenka monastery across the street.
As soon as we had ordered, a wicker basket with a selection of hot, fresh baked rolls and a ramekin of garlic butter was delivered to the table. I ordered the fried Suluguni cheese (180 r) as a starter which came fried in rough breadcrumbs. The crisp crust contrasted with the soft white cheese. John had the tomato soup (150 r) which was creamy, spicy and chock full of tomato chunks, a testimony to its origins in the kitchen, not a canning factory.
I had the Puyard Steak (390 r) with melted cheese and served with green arugula salad and cherry tomatoes. The tart, bitter taste of the arugula contrasted perfectly with the beef.
The Salmon Steak with Mashed Potatoes (350 r) ordered by John arrived with a clutch of stalks of fresh green capers protruding from the potatoes on either side of the fish.
While Euro athletic championships beamed from Goteburg were playing on the screens and a party of young office workers were cavorting around a long table while lively 70’s disco music played all round us, we ordered dessert. My Carrot Cake with Mascarponi Sauce (150r) was the perfect end to the meal while John was enthralled by his Pineapple Carpaccio (180r), which turned out to be a large platter of thin sliced fresh pineapple surrounded by kiwi fruit slices and covered in sliced strawberries with a scoop of frozen berry sauce on top.
The lasting impression was of gourmet standard cuisine at moderate prices in a lovely pub atmosphere. No wonder senior executives from Gazprom congregate here to watch their team play.