It was on a dreary and rainy October when BQ Café (BQ) appeared in my crosshairs for a dinner review. As always, I checked out BBQ’s website before heading out the door – metro Novokuznetskaya, and an area of Moscow that I do not know well. Thus, I fully expected to have a minor headache locating BQ once on the street.
Much to my surprise, however, BQ is extremely easy to find, even in the dark and cold rain. Novokuznestskaya has one exit – go up the escalator, exit, walk across the courtyard, and BQ is immediately in front of you about 50 m on the corner, behind the small statue and benches.
My dinner date had to cancel on me at the last minute. I called several friends with an offer to join, but the notice was either too short or “I’m not in Moscow right now”, so, that being said, I entered the BQ pit alone.
Upon entering, I was cheerfully greeted and told to proceed to the second floor. There is a bar on the first floor and second floor, as well as large table seating areas. And, on Friday, BQ is a busy place – to say the least, the tables were full, and, as such, I would recommend making a reservation prior to arriving.
To be honest and to save you time reading – BQ is fantastic, and I recommend it without reservation. The atmosphere and design are enchanting, the service excellent, the menu moderately priced, and the food five-star.
What differentiates BQ most of all, however, is a piece of a three-year recurring dream for me – being able to browse the menu, order, summon your server, and request your check from an iPad! Not your own iPad, but, yes, BBQ will give you one of their iPads loaded with the current menu offerings, in Russian and English. If you are familiar with an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, you will understand immediately how to browse. If not, your waiter or waitress will be more than happy to assist.
The software suite is well-thought out and including an easy switch between Russian and English is a huge plus. You click the “+” on the item that you want to order, and it goes into what is essentially your shopping cart. After making your choices, you push the “my order” button to see your shopping cart. From that screen, you can easily delete, add, or modify (through a text box) your order, and then send it. After your order is sent, your server will confirm it with you.
After slinking through the ordering process with ease, it was time to indulge in what I ordered as it came down the pike.
The first salvo was unfiltered BBQ microbrew beer
(190 RUB, 500ml) and a pina colada
(350 RUB) to complement my chicken quesadilla
(410 RUB). Even if I was dining alone, I was still going to drink for two! The beer was flavorful and cold, the pina colada made Jimmy Buffet proud, and the quesadilla hungrily melted in my mouth.
The second salvo was the Spanish assortment of meats
(850 RUB) from the Tapas Menu, mushrooms enoki wrapped in bacon
(320 RUB), and eurovareniki
(220 RUB). The Spanish assortment includes a wide array of tastes – Cheese Manchego, Marcon Iberico, Choriozo Iberico, Bayonne Ham, Stuffed Pappers, Green Olives, Croutons, and Lomo Iberico – and is one of the several Tapas plates that are great starters for a group meal.
The enoki mushroom dish is one of the “mushroom season” dishes being offered currently and was a refreshingly different taste served with fresh asparagus. I believe that the eurovareniki are available all year, and I enthusiastically recommend them. Served in a crisp housing of thin dough, they explode – simply explode – with flavor once you take a bite. On my return trip – and it will likely be this Sunday evening for live NFL football – I will definitely order the eurovareniki.
At this point in the meal, I was happily satiated, but I knew I still had my main course on the grill. I pushed the button on my iPad to summon my server, and politely requested a 30 minute break before the next salvo, as well as another BBQ microbrew beer
(190 RUB, 500ml). I then sat back, read up on some news, and simply indulged in the staged changing from a sit-down restaurant to a dance floor restaurant a la Tema Bar.
The main course of BQ pork ribs and french fries
(490 RUB) arrived on time and piping hot. I, however, was still on the sidelines satiated, so I pushed the button to request that they package it for me to take home. I can say that the ribs were excellent the next day for lunch since the sauce had soaked into them overnight. However, there are many attractive main course offerings on the BQ menu, and I will try something else on my next visit.
The total for the evening was 3020 RUB and is a bit skewed on the high side since I purposefully chose the 850 RUB tapas and indulged in a pina colada for 350 RUB. As such, a person can visit BQ for a fine meal and drink or two at a moderate price and indulge in the pleasant atmosphere that makes a person want to return again and again.
Atmosphere and other points to take into account:
BQ attracts a younger, hip crowd, so the music and surroundings reflect this; however, everything is done with good taste. The big screen televisions on my floor were showing a mix of sporting events and music videos, neither of which dominated my meal. I was told, as well, that the music and lighting changes several times per day – morning from 0800 to 1200 has a peppier, wake me up like coffee vibe, 1200 to 1600 is a mix of music to the 1990s, 1600 to 1800 is happy hour with a laid back feel, 1800 to 2200 is edgier cocktail, and from 2200 to the wee hours of the morning showcases a DJ or live music.
BBQ has free Wi-Fi and outlets that are the most readily available and numerous of any restaurant or café that I have seen in Moscow to date. This is a huge plus because BQ is a superb location for either a working dinner or after dinner wind down.
Happy hour is from 1600 to 1800 with attractive drink specials and replays of sporting events from previous days.
BQ offers a Weekend Lunch that is a rotating special menu from the chef for 1111 RUB that is enough food, generally speaking, for two .
BQ celebrates holidays – US, EUR, and RUS. For instance, Halloween runs from 21 October until 31 October, with thematic decorations and menu/bar offerings.
Loyalty card: Free with first visit and offers a 5-10% earned credit forward, not an immediate discount.