The great empires of antiquity clashed over a Golden Apple - the incident in which King Priams son Paris gave one to the Goddess Aphrodite prompted the Trojan Wars. And it was way back when Ajax and Agamemnon were still in short pants that if you wanted supper in Moscow, you went to a hotel to eat.
Positioning itself as Moscow???s entrant in the Hip Hotel stakes, the Golden Apple is a shrine of funky chic, tucked delicately off Pushkin Square on Malaya Dmitrovka. Could the Apple Bar & Restaurant flout the Road Warriors credo that the dullest supper in town is in your own hotel?
In a city already crammed with stuffy hotels modeled on Elvis Presley's bathroom the unrepentant modernism and contemporary lines of Golden Apple makes a welcome change. Strange then that the decor for the restaurant is an odd backdrop of silhouetted woodland at dusk? After the sleek modern minimalism of the lobby, this creates a more informal and restful dining area for those dining for pleasure.
The bar area (same menu available in both) reflects a more urgent and metropolitan mojo, and since all the tables there were taken we opted to dine in the woods. There are around twenty tables overall with a ratio of wait-staff to diners that is admirably generous.
And what staff they are, too...extensive knowledge of the nuances of the entire menu and seasonal specials with enviable command of stylistic English - a perfect balance between enthusiasm and helpfulness. Nor was there any cajoling towards the high-end dishes or wines, or to over-order. Whilst we pored over the menu a complimentary gazpacho cocktail appeared ??? piquant and very pleasant.
Apple Bar features a permanent menu of international dishes alongside a Specials menu that changes monthly. July???s theme was summer fruits so I pitched in with a Fruity-Cool cocktail (350 Rbs) that slipped down so easily that I had another before really noticing how potent the blend of vodka, banana liqueur, and fruit brandy was. Equally powerful was my friend Olga???s Cosmopolitan (280 Rbs) - but its concentrated intensity didn???t hit the mood, and it languished unfinished.
The prompt and cheerful service quickly rustled-up two contrasting salads alongside some delicious home-baked bread. Olga munched happily on a Crispy Frisee Salad with Deepfried Seafood on a Rasberry Coulis (360 Rbs), pausing only to lament the fate of the junior octopuses therein. My own salad was a shameless splurge, but worth every kopek of 750 Rbs for the self-righteous glow achieved from near-fatless Lobster-Mango Salad. A Classic Mojito came along (for 390 Rbs) to replace the unappreciated Cosmo, and this prompted the order of wine for the main courses. As usual our ideas on choosing red or white differed - but Apple Bar has a good selection of wines by the glass. With a beef entree in view Olga went for a luscious Concha y Toro Trio for just 240 Rbs. My white was 2005 Tavel Prestige des Lauzeraies with elegant crispness as a counterpoint to fish, but since I was already three sheets to the wind after the deadly Fruity-Cools - and moreover because the wine was 380 Rbs per succulent glassful - I limited myself to just one, with healthy gulps of Evian alongside.
We moved on to the entrees, and Olga followed the waitress's strong recommendation for the Entrecote (800 Rbs), which came magnificent presented with coriander and black pepper, with a gratin of potato and mushroom If you prefer your steak well-done then remember to ask them - the default order is lightly seared only. My misgivings that Salmon + Cod Baked in Filo Pastry (680 Rbs) might be dry were unfounded some nice Hollandaise kept things agreeably moist, and all light and delicate enough to leave space for dessert.
Following her more classical theme Olga chose a Classic Baked Cheesecake - a dish that is often dehydrated tvorog on toast in Moscow, but this one was spot-on for 250 Rbs. The same asking-price brought some very good marinated figs and the curtain came down on some Margentau loose leaf tea (160 Rbs) and my habitual Double Espresso (210 Rbs).
Clearly the menu-pricing is aimed at Business Travelers - and these were clearly 90% of our fellow diners. However the contemporary decor - and welcome absence of blaring Russian pop - earmark Apple Bar as an ideal place for continuing business discussions over an elegant supper. When entertaining clients the last thing you need is wrangles with the waiters, and the super service here makes it a strong recommendation on that score.