Address: Savvinskaya nab., 21
Tel: +7 (495) 518-6060
Open Mon-Fri from 18:00 until 24:00, Sat-Sun from 12:00 until 24:00.
All major credit cards accepted.
By Polly Dented
The Apartment, a restaurant-slash-bar along Savvinskaya embankment nearish Kievsky Vokzal, claims to be the first New York loft-style restaurant. Unlike many Moscow dining establishments vying for a title of “first in Moscow,” or “only in Moscow,” I believe this place actually lives up to its claims. I have yet to see any establishment comparable in design, service and lack of pretension. In fact, it already seems to be a big hit and it hasn’t even officially opened to the public yet. (Hint: taking the metro? Then I recommend catching a gypsy cab after crossing the fancy bridge - this is not a pleasant wintertime stroll.)
The owners based their concept on New York’s Campbell Apartment bar, but expanded it both in terms of space and what’s on offer. The space is huge, open, and divided into different 'rooms’; there are no walls, of course, in keeping true to the definition of 'loft.' Each 'room' has a slightly different feel about it, and the careful attention to detail in designing each space is something you just can’t help but notice (check out the bathroom!!). Some areas are more private, while others will place their guests in the center of attention - if they want; you can also opt to have the floor-to-ceiling curtains pulled closed. Some of the areas also boast a view of the Moscow River.
As the|apartment is not yet officially open to the public, the final version of the menu is not quite ready. Instead of making our own selections this evening, the chef, who is Russian but recently returned after 15 years of living and garnering culinary experience in France, came out to speak with us and let us know what was available that night. The cuisine style, we were told, is classical French with a twist. Now since the menus aren’t quite ready yet, there will be one important detail missing from this review: exact prices. When I spoke with Katya, the owner, she explained that the restaurant is aiming at mid-range prices, with dinner (without drinks) running at approximately $60-70.
We chose a table in the 'breakfast area.' I ordered a vodka tonic (served with Beluga vodka) and Mr. Polly started with fizzy water, and ended with a dry red. We were served a small appetizer of kalamata olives marinated in garlic, which was quite garlicky (I love garlic, though) and mixed well with the rich flavor of the olives. Next came our salads - a carefully presented pedestal of shrimp and mushrooms topped with mixed greens in light vinaigrette, crowned with four butterflied jumbo shrimp in a flavorful but light, Asian style sauce. This plate had the potential for many things to go wrong - the sauce, with its traces of teriyaki, could easily have been overpowering; the shrimp, as so often happens in Moscow, could have been overcooked after being defrosted, resulting in a mushy, smooshy mess. But the textures were perfect, the flavors intermingled just the way you'd want them too, and nothing was smooshy or mushy.
Next was a small trout salad treat. Now, ordinarily I’m not a big fan of fish, but I do make an effort to try new things. Well, sometimes anyway. We were presented with little cylinders of smoked trout bits carefully wrapped around broccoli florets. I can honestly say I was very pleasantly surprised with the gentle, non-fishy flavor of the trout, which is probably the most fish I’ve eaten in a very long time.
Next we were served our main entrees: French cut veal chops in a mild mushroom sauce garnished minimally with tiny potatoes and tiny stewed cherry tomatoes. While we probably would have appreciated a slightly more substantial side dish, everything was very nicely presented and packed with yumminess. The veal was definitely one of the most tender veal experiences I have ever had; the meat practically melted in our mouths, was juicy and went wonderfully well with the accompanying mushroom sauce.
After dinner, Mr. Polly asked for some black tea and a dessert: a delicate slice of parfait in 'fruit soup,' which featured fresh strawberries and rose petals. The serving size was just right - not too big - and the sweetness factor was just right, not overdone.
During our evening there, the staff was attentive and helpful, always keeping an eye on you in case you need anything. No hovering, no hounding - any questions we had were answered knowledgably and quickly, and we really didn’t have to wait very long at all for anything. For a place that hasn't even officially opened yet, the|apartment seems to have things up and running without any hitches. Frankly, I wasn't expecting the night to go so smoothly.
Other plans for this new Moscow experience include a fully decked-out wine boutique near the entrance downstairs. This space will feature 2500 wines - now that's an extensive wine list. Not only will the boutique feature wine tasting events, it will also offer many wines by the glass, so you won't have to splurge on whole bottles - unless you want to.
Music and entertainment is another important factor for The Apartment’s ambiance and style. Michael Adam of Buddha Bar fame has been brought onboard as music director, and he will perform at least once a month. There will also be live music (one of the first things to catch your eye as you walk in is the white baby grand on a raised platform near the welcome bar). Musical entertainment will predominantly be jazz, cabaret, and background-type music - nothing that’ll make you have to scream across the table in order to have a conversation.
And of course there’s this week’s special pre-opening Thanksgiving Day feast, thanks to the owners, who have spent several years in the States and know what it's all about. They learned to love our special autumn holiday and are now offering to share it with Moscow expats and their families. Note: I have been assured that Thanksgiving Day at the|apartment will be family friendly (i.e. kids welcome!). If you haven’t made your T-Day plans yet, definitely consider booking a table for this Thursday (23 November 2006).
In all, we both loved the way everything looked, the style, the unpretentiousness (a real rarity in this town!), and especially the enthusiasm of the staff and owners. This is one place we'd definitely like to go back to once the doors are open to all.