Restaurant: Madam Galife
International menu featuring Thai, Hungarian, Andalusian and Georgian food. Live music. Noon-midnight weekdays, 5pm-midnight Sat-Sun.
Around the corner on Grokholsky Pereulok, Sitnikov opened Madame Galife, an upscale Russian interpretation of a French bistro with a basement Reggae bar. The upstairs dining room exudes an easy European chic ambiance and features conspicuously placed works by local artists without appearing contrived or heavy-handed. It also offers countryside food – ribs, shashlyk, steaks and fish – at reasonable prices.
On the surface, Sitnikov’s restaurants offer a rare opportunity in Moscow to commune with nature and enjoy a good bottle of wine – but this is Russia and there is always another story lurking beneath the surface.
Listening to Sitnikov describe his unlikely beginnings in the restaurant business between sips of fresh carrot juice on the quiet terrace at Birds and Fishes is like receiving a history lesson in the brutalities of political life following the demise of the Soviet Union. Sitnikov, 42, came to Moscow from Siberia in 1989 and founded Image-Contact, a political research group now employing more than 500 analysts. The company is credited with propelling some of Russia’s most influential politicians and businessmen into power, but Sitnikov flatly refuses to discuss any of his clients.
In the early days of Sitnikov’s career, newly founded Russian consulting groups aggressively vied for a piece of President Boris Yeltsin’s burgeoning political war chest. Aggressive business rivalries turned to violence and some consultants paid with their lives. "Competitors started to shoot each other – literally," Sitnikov said. "I needed to arrange an infrastructure where we could communicate."