Text by Charles Borden
Photos by Liza Azarova
Cafe Roset is on the inbound side of Kutuzovsky Prospekt, just past the Harley Davidson dealer, and the Bottega Veneta, and Dolce Gabbana shops. It is situated on the second floor above elitny furniture shop, Interior Salon Line Roset. The furniture shop opens at 9 every morning in order to admit the Cafe’s breakfast customers. Along with an excellent kitchen, Cafe Roset became a Passport favorite a few months ago when we found a spectacular wine on its list, the Australian, Clarendon Hills Syrah. Roset’s sommelier, Elena, is also on our preferred list of wine professionals in Moscow.
We returned several times this month to Cafe Roset to see how it was fairing. Parking is streetside, and it is usually not difficult to find a space among the few millions of dollars of shiny, black steel lined up in front of the neighboring elitny shops. Enter through the furniture shop, turn right, and up the stairs to Cafe Roset’s cosy quarters. Most of the tables are served with the squishy seats so loved by the chill-out crowd, but there are a few tables with real chairs. Except on late weekend evenings, a table is usually available. In summer, there is a pleasant rooftop terrace.
We started with a Tuna Tartar with Quail Egg and Pickled Ginger (650r); a mound of raw chopped tuna on ice with a raw egg centered on top. This we followed with an excellent creamy, slightly spicy Red Bean Soup with Prawns and Thyme (350r) and a nothing special Tomato and Red Onion Salad (350r).
The Spaghetti with Lobster Claw (1290r) was accompanied by cherry tomatoes and fresh basil, and was “tasty as hell” (translation: great) according to one of our guests. A rather more simple pasta, Penne with Tomato, Basil and Olives (450r), was adequate, but the Meatballs and Tomato that were ordered as an accompaniment were simply sad cutlet balls without much punch. The first time we ordered the Kenyan String Beans with Peanut there were no peanuts, and both times the Kenyan beans were overboiled. The Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce was fine, but our Dutch guest said that the sauce bore little resemblance to the real thing.
For the main course, we keep coming back for Roset’s Chicken Tabaka (600r), a small but extremely tasty, tender and juicy chicken dish. The Royal Dorado (800r), which is served with Teriyaki sauce, has also been a hit.
Cafe Roset has managed to keep a few good wines on its list throughout the crisis. However, we finished the last two bottles of a Chilean Ventisquero Syrah Reserva (1800r) and had to spring for a less palatable Barbaresco (3600r) to finish off the meal. Apparently, as wines dribble into distributors hands during the new customs regime, they are snatched up immediately, and restaurants have to take what they can get. Roset has a good selection of wines by the glass ranging in price from 320r to 590r.
We have not been in for breakfast, but Roset must be a popular stop off for a quick business breakfast on the ride into the city. Beside the usual fresh juices and fruit, Roset serves Russian dishes such as olady (Russian pancake) and syrniki (fried cheese patty) as well as kefir and tvorag (house cheese).