Restaurant: Prince Bagration
Average cost: $30-50
An impressive interior, excellent Georgian cuisine and live music nightly from Georgian quartet
Prince Bagration overlooks the new South Korean Embassy building on Plyushchikha across from the Frunze Military Academy and not far from the Novodivichy Monastery.
Prince Pyotr Bagration was a famous Russian general and war hero and practically the last of Georgia’s Bagration royal family. He died from wounds at the Battle of Borodino in 1812.
In my books, Bagration is one of Moscow’s top 5 restaurants for out-of-town guests. Bagration has everything — an impressive interior, excellent Georgian cuisine and live music nightly from Georgian quartet. However, in these days of Russia’s ban on Georgian wine, guests might have to settle for a semi-sweet red Argentine or French wine.
Bagration is set in a three-story, free standing building constructed for the restaurant about 5 years ago. From the off-street parking, a Georgian in traditional dress opens the door, and just past the reception, a climb up a wrought iron circular stairway opens to the second floor. A lot of attention went into the elaborate interior, a mix of dark, heavy wood with wrought iron details.
The second floor tables surround a dance floor and face a small stage where the male quartet perform a mix of Georgian, Russian and Western songs. On some nights, Georgian dancers join in. Bagration is one of the few eateries left in Moscow with live music nightly, which at one time was essential to any Moscow restaurant. If the music is too loud, or you would like a nice romantic balcony, there are several side rooms, a third floor and even rooftop, starlight dining.
Bagration has a heavy menu, and unfortunately the one English version has disappeared. Everything is ordered a la carte, and it is easy to over-order. With Georgian cuisine, one can expect pungent spices, red pepper, garlic, walnuts, pomegranate, mint. Many dishes are cooked and served on traditional ceramic dishes and bowls. Vegetarians can easily eat their fill at Bagration; or most Georgian restaurants for that matter.
For a first visit, Bagration’s many selections can be slimmed down to essentials – a cheese plate, fresh vegetables, Gebjhaliya, satsivi, lavash, khachapuri, lobio, and shashlik. Bagration produces its own house cheeses – suligani and chechil, and both of them plain or smoked. The cheese plate (1,310r) will have each, plus the delicious Suligani Tiflis (cream cheese mixed with mint and wrapped in suligani). The fresh vegetables are the usual quartered tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes and a selection of greens. The Gebjhaliya (355r) was exquisite – pieces of soft suligani floating in a matsoni (Georgian yoghurt) and mint sauce.
The breads consist of lavash (27r), a thick, white, boomerang-shaped loaf, and khachapuri, a flat bread stuffed with cheese. Bagration has khachapuri with spinach, potatoes, or the Khachapuri po Migrelski (360r) that we tried. It has an extra layer of cheese on top, cooked on a ceramic dish. We had a Satsivi with Turkey (415r), chunks of turkey breast swimming in a walnut cream sauce. A favorite is the Lobio Red, a thick, spicy, stewed red bean appetizer served in a ceramic pot. We added Chicken Rachinski (375r), garlic coated chicken legs and thighs grilled in Georgian ceramic ware.
We never got to the main course or the shaslik; the appetizers were just too good and too filling. The restaurant has its own wine cellar with Kahetian wines imported by the owners, but for the moment these bottles have become innocent victims of the Russian-Georgia wine war. Try some Georgian Chacha, a grape-based vodka.
Bagration seats up to 250 people and is well laid out for parties. Note that the restaurant does not take credit cards, so bring cash. Our bill for five was 5,833 rubles ($216).