In contrast to a recent review of a restaurant that I will refrain from naming – a place that may very well not exist when you read this review – I liked
In fact, I not only liked Frendy’s, I was, and am, enamored with this small, cozy American-style diner on Ulitsa Pokrovka. Since our initial, virgin dinner on a windy, cold night in March, I have returned there two more times with friends.
Your first challenge with regard to Frendy’s is arriving. The location is equidistant between three metro stations – Kitay-Gorod, Chistiye Prudy, and Kurskaya – and Ulitsa Pokrovka is a long, one-way street if you are driving.
The location, however, is not a deal breaker and, for my taste, is more of an asset than a liability. In Moscow, I like smaller establishments that are not “so easy” to get to because, well, there tend to be less people, and fewer throngs of customers means that your business is “better valued” and results in a better dining experience.
If walking, get off at either Kitay-Gorod or Chistiye Prudy. It’s a 10 to 15 minute walk to Frendy’s on main streets, and in the Spring, Summer, or Fall, this walk is enjoyable and gives you an easy entry into a unique area of Moscow. Look for the big, lighted, yellow-hued sign – take a right through a small courtyard, and you are there.
Frendy’s occupies the third floor of a rustic, historic building. The second floor is occupied by the Bentley Hotel, and both businesses fall under the same ownership umbrella.
Upon making it up the stairs, you will realize immediately that three flights of stairs for such a cool diner is a fair trade indeed. The space that the designers had to use in formulating Frendy’s is challenging - Third floor, attic-style ceilings, and really only one possible natural light area.
Many restaurants in Moscow attempt to deliver either trendy-dark-expensive-depression or uber lighted-faux-expensive-bubble gum – and generally FAIL at delivering anything. Few restaurants “get it” and deliver the simple ambiance that Frendy’s does through its use of the right lighting, mirrors, and seating arrangement. Throughout the meal, I gushed to my dining partner – “I really like
this place, even more than – ahem – Starlite”. From the dreary weather outside to the warm, lively reception inside – Frendy’s gets a 10 on atmosphere and setting.
To note, however, Frendy’s is not large and while it’s still a newer establishment, limited seating capacity is less of a dire issue. On the other hand, with a challenging location, if I were a walk-up diner who had made the trek to Frendy’s only to find out that I had to wait for a table, I would not be singing Fred Astaire with a smile. In the warmer months – and this is what will garner my Spring/Summer business – there will be seating, and perhaps a separate menu, in the courtyard outside.
Frendy’s also does not have free Wi-Fi access for customers and it can be challenging to catch a good signal in the building. It is generally a huge minus for me to not have readily-available Wi-Fi access, but I understand that the manager will add WiFi in the near future, as well as a loyalty/discount program and other promotions.
For the unabashedly American or Russian hamburger soul, the menu at Frendy’s is heaven. Keep this in mind when you go there – Frendy’s does not pretend to be something it is not. It is an American diner, and it does not portend to be everything for everybody.
The menu reads like an All-Star list of the foods that are the death of the Pax Americana and will be the downfall of the rising Asian Tiger. From my vivid memory, cheeseburgers, chicken wings, nachos, Philly cheesesteak, seasoned french fries, onion rings, chili, nachos, omlets, eggs over easy, ranch dressing (a first in Moscow for me), the seemingly mandated-by-law Caesar salad, and porridge. In short, every selection on the menu was appealing for me, even the porridge.
We started with two appetizers, and it was hard to choose just two from the tantalizing list. We settled on boneless BBQ-flavored chicken wings
(465 RUB) and Frendy’s nachos
(380 RUB), to be doused separately and exclusively in a cold bottle of Coors Light
(115 RUB) and milkshake
Warning: Like the American waistline and ego, love it or hate it, the portions at Frendy’s are All-American too. That is, they are BIG. Actually, “big” is unfair – they are huge, and savory to the last gram!
The chicken wings came out first, and were immaculate. Then the huge plate of nachos showed up to the party, and I was a paralyzed to choose which to tear into with more gusto. In the meantime, my civilized, Red passport-carrying dining partner was enjoying her mushroom soup
(210 RUB) and, surprise, Caesar salad with freshly grilled chicken
I vaguely remember her saying, well, positive words about her soup and salad. Honestly, though, I was lost like Hunter S. Thompson in Circus Circus in the ranch dressing sauce for my wings, a mountain of nachos, and Coors Light.
To wit, it was a transcendental escape for my unapologetically American soul at an unapologetic American diner. I could have been in Steve’s Diner in a Vermont as easily as Frendy’s on Ulitsa Pokrovka in Moscow – like Dorothy in Oz, there is no place like home, and Frendy’s is a juicy morsel of genuine Americana.
Next were entrees – and we immediately understood it would be next to impossible to have room for them. For me, a Cheddar Bacon Burger
(455 RUB) with breaded onion rings and, for my dining date, a quartered Club Sandwich (395 RUB) with french fries
The cheeseburger was a three-inch tall monster daring you to take the first bite. My only choice was to douse it in ketchup and ranch, squeeze the bun down into the huge chunk of meat, and tear off the first sloppy bite. Harkening back to the famous Buffet song that will be played at my wake one day – “Cheeseburger in Paradise, not too particular, not too precise….just a Cheeseburger in Paradise. “ Absolute sloppy Cheeseburger heaven, each and every bite.
My dining partner had 25% of her Club Sandwich and raved that it was so good that it was a shame to try to enjoy it when she was already satiated, so she stopped to instead take photos of me with my new kitten.
At this point, we requested take home boxes since there was so much food remaining, all of it, quite frankly, damn good. Our items were wrapped in foil, neatly packed into a bag, and returned to us. As a testament to the “hot damn” factor of our entire meal, my Saturday breakfast was, immediately upon getting out of bed, my remaining chicken wings and cheeseburger. I gladly dodged the scathing barrage of words from my lady to indulge in Frendy’s morning after.
In short, I do not know what else can be said. Our bill was 2845 RUB – a bargain for the quality of food, portion size, mouth-watering flavor, attentive service, and appealing atmosphere.
Without hesitation, I recommend Frendy’s if you are looking for an American diner experience. I am writing this review on Delta flight 30 somewhere over Greenland – and I will be going to Frendy’s later today upon arrival, no joke. I recommend that you do the same!