If Moscow is a city of playboys, then Nedalny Vostok is where they go to play. It’s another in the eaterie empire of Moscow’s most ubiquitous and successful restaurateur, Arkady Novikov. Novikov-spotters will already know that he never repeats himself, and the formula for each of his projects is always something entirely innovative and unique. But the guiding hallmarks of uncompromised quality and excellence unite these hugely disparate dining-places – any surprises you get in them will only be happy ones.
Nedalny is still headed-up by Executive Chef Glen Ballis, who first opened the restaurant several years ago. It’s a welcome contrast to the quality nosedive swiftly taken after opening by most other new restaurants in Moscow – the warmth of the welcome at Nedalny, and the piquancy of the menu haven’t flagged in the intervening years… if anything, they’ve even picked-up. It’s something they are acutely aware of at Nedalny Vostok – “You’re only as good as the last meal you served!”
comes the self-reproving cry – and at these prices, the customers have a right to expect perfection every time. Ballis’s wide experience cooking throughout SE Asia serves to enliven an Australian approach to cuisine that’s already refreshingly unfettered by convention. But innovative combinations of simple ingredients only work if those ingredients are astoundingly, enviably fresh, and of unimpeachably top quality. It’s a winning combination for those whose credit-cards will stretch to the experience – and that’s quite a stretch.
If other Novikov restaurants are about showing-off, or sealing the deal, then Nedalny is more a place you’d come with your friends. The low ceilings and delicate lighting add an intimacy to what might otherwise be an intimidating space – and placed at the very centre are the chefs themselves, doing their stuff right in front of your very eyes. This warm and social atmosphere is encouraged by the menu – the Asian roots of many of the dishes make them ideal for sharing. The interiors are achieved with stylish contemporary Japanese elegance, and everything is calculated to put you at your ease – there’s no stiffness or standing upon ceremony here. The presentation has a graceful oriental simplicity that makes lingering over dishes a pleasure – this is food for enjoying and savouring, and not for showing-off about fish-knives or crab-crackers.
Offered a choice from the cocktail menu, Marusya’s eyes shot swiftly to the Chef’s Specialities – something I’ve learned from experience to avoid. Barmen worldwide haven’t come up with classic cocktails just by chance, and pretenders to the throne have to try extra-hard. A Seka
(870 RUR) promised lush fruity tastes, but turned-out to be unduly sweet – my choice of a Mai-Tai
(770 RUR) turned out to be wiser, and it was a real classic of the genre, deliciously made.
We ate lightly at lunchtime, and all the dishes were ideal for sharing – so we did. If a tomato carpaccio
sounds rather unexciting – especially at 790 RUR – in fact it was my favourite dish of the entire meal, due to superlatively succulent beef-tomatoes and a coriander-miso dressing that turned them into a gourmet treat. Another of Glen Ballis’s dishes with a secret magic ingredient was the Crunchy Beef Carpaccio
(640 RUR) – which turns-up slightly arranged on delicate crisps with an appealing aroma of truffle oil and a grated parmesan topping, and it all disappeared very easily indeed. Hearing of my veggie inclinations, the chefs rustled up a Tofu with SE Asian Spices & Edamame Beans
, with a delicately light texture – not on the menu, but available anyhow for 590 RUR. Another item which we took on the restaurant’s recommendation was Tiger Prawns with miso mayonnaise
(490 RUR). These came with a scattering of very strongly-flavoured ham shreds, which divided opinions – personally I felt they wrecked the delicate taste of the prawns. Marusya felt less strongly about this – well, she finished the plateful, so clearly she enjoyed them.
In the hands of an Australian chef in Russia, I couldn’t resist trying his own special take on a dessert created for the ballerina Pavlova’s gala performance in Sydney – Pavlova
(590 RUR). And it delivered its very own pas-de-deux, brought to life with coconut meringues replacing the traditional ones, raspberry coulis, and pistachio ice-cream at the centre. But Nedalny’s Confectionery Chef is a star in his own right, Kobayashi Katsuhiko, and Marusya was more tempted by his Violet
, which was a panna cotta with raspberry mousse - modest and dainty at a mere 490 RUR.
The brasserie style of the menu makes Nedalny Vostok an ideal location for anything from an elegant light snack with a friend through to an engaging multi-course meal with your business guests. The lighthearted decor favours a more social context for your meal, and in the evening there are DJs from 9pm onwards. For a very upscale dining experience, it’s up there among the world’s top eateries.