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6 Moscow Сafes and Сars where You Feel at Home

Old mansion, Georgian living room and Soviet apartment


We will talk about cafes, bars and restaurants of the capital, which are most similar to a cozy home, and not to a catering establishment. An old mansion with many tenants, a secret apartment with old furniture, a grandmother’s dacha and the dwelling of a Soviet intellectual.

What it is like: a huge communal apartment

The former wing of the Glebovs’ estate in Trekhsvyatitelsky lane this summer started being settled in by Eduard Oganesyan, the director of the Chiki series, and Nikita Fomkin, the creator of the Syur bar. They kept the layout, opened up previously blocked passages with doors, painted the walls, exposed the old parquet and furnished the rooms with vintage furniture. The Kvartira 37 Georgian cafe and Eclair tea house, the Arenda pasta bar now coexist under one roof, and in the near future they will be joined by a couple of bars, a tea room, a psychologist’s office and shops of ceramics and vintage cameras. The result is a place full of quiet charm: most of all, it looks like a cozy large apartment, where seasonal flowers crumble in vases, wooden pendants rustle between rooms, and a child can ride a bicycle along a long corridor.

What it is like: housing of the Soviet intellectual

Actually, there are several “Apartments”: on Bolshaya Nikitskaya, Malaya Yakimanka and Malaya Ordynka. Each is furnished in the style of old Moscow apartments: there are lamps under fringed lampshades, heavy wooden sideboards, cloudy amalgam mirrors, rotary telephones, sofas and armchairs with fabric upholstery, collections of classical literature and “novel-newspaper” filings on the shelves, and the irreplaceable piano in one of the halls. Each of the places is unique, but they share the general concept of friendship and unobtrusive hospitality, musical evenings and menus. Over the years of its existence, a tradition of apartment concerts has developed here: in winter evenings they take place inside the cafe, and in summer – on the open veranda. Jazz, French chanson and songs from favorite films are played on Fridays and Saturdays, pianists and accordionists perform on weekdays. And here you can also find poetry readings.

The menu includes Russian and European cuisine. You can order a borscht (hot or cold depending on the season), bruschetta, a set of tiger prawns or a steak.

What it is like: a cozy tiny flat with old furniture

You should go to a small bar in the former entrance of the house on Bolshaya Gruzinskaya for several reasons: if you want to drink wine, have dinner and visit a friend. Here they gather at a large wooden table, having leisurely conversations in a circle of soft light from lamps with a shade. The place is cozy and lived-in. The owners furnished the space with old furniture, found unusual dishes and glasses, and created a simple menu consisting mainly of dishes that are good to eat in company. When you enter Vinaga, you feel as if you really ended up at the home of old acquaintances who have been waiting for you for a long time – they made dumplings or baked chicken for a special occasion, turned on your favorite music, lit candles, set the table, opened wine and put fresh seasonal flowers on the table.

What it is like: a manor that lives a life full of art

Dom 16 was created by Mitya Borisov, the founder of Jean-Jacques and another couple of famous places of the capital. Under the roof of the legendary Teleshov estate on Pokrovsky Boulevard, there is a bar, restaurant, cafe and workshops. The club continues and develops the tradition that originated in the estate at the end of the 19th century: from 1899 to 1922, “Wednesdays” were held here, creative meetings of musicians, writers, theater figures. Now they meet here for breakfasts, which gradually develop into lunches and dinners, listen to music and poetry, watch various films – for example, An Unfinished Piece for a Mechanical Piano. Old wooden windows, wide open in warm weather, a lot of light, furniture in light covers, paintings on the walls – you can kind of feel like a hero of a movie here. Another important attraction of the house is the veranda. High tables and chairs are brought out into the street, and you can relax in the shade of trees, drink wine and admire Podkolokolny Lane.

What it is like: Grandma’s dacha

A network of inexpensive and cozy city cafes that create a complete illusion of relaxing in a country house with relatives: checkered tablecloths and curtains, soft sofas, many fresh flowers and various pleasant little things. The menu includes home-cooked dishes that are well known to everyone: from borscht to meatballs and Napoleon cake. But the most important here are dumplings. There are hearty ones: with potatoes, cabbage, mushrooms, veal, pork, lamb and their variations in pots with fried meat. And there are sweet ones – with cottage cheese and raisins, apples, cherries, black currants. For those who like something more unusual, a special offer from the chef has been prepared: bird cherry and poppy seed, vegetable, beetroot and rabbit julienne dumplings.

What it is like: a place where time stopped

In addition to Moscow, Mari Vanna operates in St. Petersburg, New York, London and Baku. The interior is styled as an old apartment: herringbone parquet on the floor, colorful wallpapers and framed photographs on the walls, lace napkins and tablecloths on the tables, lamps in lampshades with the obligatory fringe under the ceiling. The most honored guests (they are called residents here) have special keys to the doors of the restaurant. A whole story has been built around Mari Vanna – guests are greeted by a charming hostess Anna and her pets: Venya the cat, Petya the fish and Pavlik the canary. The menu includes dishes of Russian cuisine. Cheesecakes and scrambled eggs are prepared for breakfast, rich borscht in an old tureen and potatoes sizzling in a frying pan are brought to dinner, and in the evenings homemade tinctures flow like a river, which are suitable for herring, Russian salad, and aspic, and toast made from Borodinsky bread with salmon.

Cover photo: Vinaga

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