Pushkin restaurant and café (Пушкин) is a standard prodigal tourists’ choice in Moscow. Be ready to deplete your wallet there. To feel like a Russian nouveau riche, order caviar with buckwheat pancakes at RUR 5,790. For fairness' sake, herring with potato salad will cost you ten times less at Pushkin, but it hardly matches the luxury interior of the restaurant or its wine card content.
For delicacies of Russia’s North like venison, elk, other game and mushrooms, as well as fish from the Arctic Ocean and the Baikal Lake, visit Expedition (Экспедиция) restaurant. Try their stroganina (frozen meat or fish shavings) popular among indigenous North Siberian peoples. Most visitors praise the food at Expedition and its design mimicking a camp in taiga while noting their excessively high prices.
Dr Zhivago (Доктор Живаго) restaurant located near the Kremlin, at National Hotel, offers an extensive menu with a touch of the Soviet era. Try their soused apples as a starter and Kiev cutlets (chicken breast rolls) as a main course.
White Rabbit is a trendy place in Smolenskaya Square, opposite to the Foreign Ministry skyscraper and close to pedestrian Arbat Street. The restaurant’s chef is known for using some well-forgotten ingredients of Russian cuisine like spelt wheat, elderberry, wild leek and other. Try their polugar – a kind of scented distillate, a proxy of Russian moonshine.
Best places to have Russian salad, borsch and pelmeni
Russian salad is commonly known in Russia as Olivier or Stolichny salad. Stolovaya 57 at GUM department Store (line 3, level 3) offers its simple and inexpensive version made with boiled sausage claiming they make it in accordance with the Book of Tasty and Healthy Food – a must for nearly every Russian household of the Soviet era.
Dr. Zhivago café (see the address above) uses veal tongue instead of sausage and capers instead of pickled cucumbers, but their salad is ten times more expensive.
One of the best places to have borsch is Taras Bulba tavern. They serve it with puffy buns named pampushki, garlic and pork fat. One of Taras Bulba restaurants is located near the Kremlin and another is close to the old Tretyakov Gallery.
Odessa Mama restaurant offers descent borsch with kidney beans which is typical of Southern Ukraine. One Mama is near Ukraine Hotel skyscraper and another one is not far from Chistye Prudy metro station (line 1, red.)
For good pelmeni visit the same-name restaurant at 6/7 Lenivka Street, near the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts and the Cathedral of the Christ the Saviour. Their dumplings are really juicy.
Another worthy option is Varenichyaya No. 1 chain restaurants with one of them on Nikolskaya Street, a stone’s throw from Red Square.