I am not sure how to start in reviewing Dome and have been struggling to find “the good” in last night’s experience. As another reviewer on Expat.ru wrote about another place – “I wanted to like it, really I did.” That is how I feel about Dome precisely and my utter indifference grows with each minute.
To wit, this was not a vividly unforgettable experience or horribly forgettable experience. It was, quite simply, a comparative waste of time. Dome is indifferent to me and its customers; I too then am indifferent to Dome. If I were a paying customer, it would have been a very difficult situation since I would have felt good paying about a quarter of what the bill came to.
Dome has a tricky location for the casual diner, expat or Russian. I scoured the website that is really a blog – funky, trendy, edgy, cool, but still a blog. No narrative about “how to find us” – just a link to Google Maps. For those who have been to the Strelka neighborhood of Moscow, you then know that there are many dining establishments. For those of you who have not been to Strelka, it is on the island in the Moscow River on the grounds of a former and gargantuan Soviet chocolate factory.
Funky, trendy, edgy, cool neighborhood. However, I challenge anybody to find a restaurant whose signage is not good, no website narrative, and has one of the horrifying “/” addresses all too common in Moscow. Add a “stroenie” plus another “drob” to the address, plus icy Moscow streets, cold wind, and darkness, and you will probably be as charmed as we were in looking for it.
Note: If you do go there, look for Dome’s competitor, Zarya - the huge of red sign with your back to the Kremlin/Cathedral that you cannot miss. As you get closer, look for the – again - huge sign for the former chocolate factory - the small, unlit sign for Dome is below. You are near.
After finally finding Dome, I still had an open mind. Walked in, liked the lighting, smiled that there was a fireplace, and quickly were shown seats at a corner table with padded bench seating. So far, so good – I liked this place. Enchanting first impression of a warm oasis of high-ceilings and soft light in the middle of the Moscow winter with fast Wi-Fi.
Menus arrived with no explanation or even an attempt at one. Not a big deal – I thought that a laissez -faire approach could be expected in what a person, from the website/blog, would understand as an artsy restaurant.
For drinks, we went with raspberry and feihuoa lemonade
(450 RUR) and a bottle of cold Corona
for me (330 RUR). We chose a mix of appetizers – hummus with fire-grilled chicken
(230 RUR), Spanish bread “krostini” with smoked tomato
(170 RUR), mixed salad with smoked duck breast
(390 RUR), and mixed salad with warm roast beef
(390 RUR). I also ordered a bowl of a beef stew
I love hummus and it pains me that good hummus is difficult to find in Moscow. I am not talking about five star, tell your friends how much you pissed away on smashed chick peas – just good hummus. Dome’s hummus was, and is, not good – I put salt in it to give the chunks some sort of taste; the result was salty chunks of blandness. Krostini were good. Smoked duck breast was good. My mixed salad with roast beef was very tasty. The beef stew was an unusual flavor, but it was unusual in an appealing way.
The flies, however, that appeared en masse with the food, were not good.
Entrees were skinless Murmansk cod fillets with mashed potatoes
(420 RUB) for my girlfriend and a beef steak with french fries
(1100 RUB) for me.
My girlfriend loves fish, seafood, and all other dining fare associated with water. She took 2 bites of her cod. I asked her, “How is it?!” since I was still finishing up my soup. She put her fork down and said, “Honestly, it’s horrible. Maybe some salt will give it some flavor.” Like my hummus, adding salt just gave birth to a salty plank of blandness. Better to leave it for the flies, and that is what she did, and that says a lot for somebody who loves fish and seafood.
My steak arrived shortly thereafter. In fairness, it was a nice cut of meat and good. I cannot say that I would not recommend it ceteris paribus
. However, a restaurant needs to understand presentation – a small steak, regardless of how good it may taste, on a big plate at 1000 rubles makes the buyer think he or she is getting, well, a raw deal.
Dinner was followed with dessert. For me, 50 grams of vanilla ice cream
(140 RUB) and a piece of orange pie
(250 RUB) for my dinner date. The ice cream was literally 50 grams, no more. Two spoonfuls – and, voila, finis. My girlfriend took one bite of the orange pie and said, “I’m full. Do you want to try it?” After my two spoonfuls of ice cream, yes, I did want to try it. After trying the pie, I would have preferred to eat either my red napkin with the remnants of my ice cream or a nerf football with powdered sugar since the pie was only marginally better than those options.
Final bill was 4440 rubles. If I would have been a paying customer, in short, I would have given a damn and really not wanted to pay.
When you sit and are eating your steak and watching 10, 11, 12 flies Mississippi crawl over your date’s uneaten food, repeatedly, it turns you off as an active diner, let alone providing fertile ground wondering, “If there are this many flies here, where/how the hell has my raw cut of meat been prepared?”
Therein is the danger for any restaurant with flies – the behind the velvet kitchen curtain unsanitary impression that flies create. I do not go to restaurants, regardless of how funky, trendy, edgy, cool, or close proximity to Rai, to wonder about what awaits me when I get home or wake up in the morning. To wit, no vomiting or prolonged restroom sessions today – apparently the flies were harmless.
At the end of the meal, I wanted to talk to the manager, in a nice way, not “I am going to scream and stomp my feet way”. She said that, yes, she was aware that I was doing a review and aware that there was a problem with flies in that corner. Then…why the hell did they seat us there? And…why then was your wait staff non-existent?
Again, with management and wait staff indifferent to me, I can only be the same – indifferent to Dome and regretful that we wasted an evening there, in addition to the time taken to write this review.