Oh, the Horror of Russian Restaurants

Bookmark and Share

When you combine the scabrous horror of Russian cuisine with the infamous hostility of Russians to anything remotely resembling customer service and Russia’s even more pernicious problems with corruption and pollution, you have a grim restaurant vortex from which nothing resembling light or hope can escape.  Now one heroic blogger has taken it upon himself to record the carnage (if it’s like this in Moscow, Russia’s city of cities, do you dare to imagine what it’s like in the hinterlands?). The Moscow Times reports:

After yet another unfulfilling Moscow meal, one expat recently snapped and launched his own restaurant review web site. This is no Michelin list, as he refuses to rate any restaurant with one star, let alone five.

Unlike tourist guides, which tend to view the city from behind rose-colored glasses, this annoyed foreigner rants at Rus-res-rev.ru about a world in which the customer is always wrong and generally leaves with a bad taste in his mouth — and not just because of the mediocre, overpriced and undercooked food.

The site’s creator, whose anonymity is slightly lessened by a picture of him eating a shwarma on the web site, did not intend to become such a harsh critic of the culinary scene, but he noticed the low standards as soon as he arrived in Moscow three years ago.

“I still held onto hope that I could find a few good places,” he said, but perpetual poor service and substandard suppers pushed him to learn how to cook.

“Now I go out a maximum of once or twice per week. I can’t just stay home and not go out, but it always just ends in a nightmare.”

A recent trip to the Czech Republic led him to launch the web site. “I expected the food quality in the Czech Republic to be similar to that of Russia, as it is a post-Soviet state, but the food there was definitely better,” he said. “I also thought the service would be poor, post-Soviet quality, but it was excellent! So I thought, if they can do it in the Czech Republic, why not in Russia? That was the tipping point.”

He is not alone in his dissatisfaction. Visitors to the Trip Advisor web site voted Moscow second in the category of worst food, according to a report released last week.

The report did not please the city government.

“We have gathered all the best food and the chefs in the world,” Dmitry Shultsev, a spokesman for the city’s tourism committee told Kommersant newspaper.

The Rus-res-rev site does not agree. Each entry gives a ranking on the “sh**-o-meter.” Convinced that no restaurant in Moscow merits a positive rank, the restaurants and cafes are graded on a scale from -5 to zero stars, representing their relative crappiness.

Coffee Khaus gets the worst ranking of -5 stars. “That is the worst place in Moscow, maybe even in most of the world,” he said. “They tried to convince me that a cappuccino was an espresso!” Coffee Khaus did not respond for a comment Tuesday.

The site only has 19 reviews, but it is growing weekly, although limiting itself to mid-priced restaurants. “I’m not going to places like the Pushkin cafe.”

Eventually, dreams the reviewer, his scorn may have some kind of effect.

“Someday, these restaurant owners will be reading this, take notice and realize how crap their service and food is, and then they’ll do something about it,” he said.

31 responses to “Oh, the Horror of Russian Restaurants

  1. Everyone can make a website. If this guy was a serious reviewer, then at least his website was working properly, now it is made shoddily and shows more personal opinion than a genuine reviews. It is a shame for Larussophobe to draw a conclusion that all Russian restaurants suck from some unknown expat. That is not to say that I somehow defend Russian dining business – prices are obviously too big in Moscow by world standards. Also when you barely make ends meet working, there will be no good service standards either. But judging everything by reading some guys website puts Larussophobe in the same level as gossip tabloid.

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS:

    Thanks for pointing to a site that praises Russian restaurants in a credible way! Very convincing! As is your specific list of good Russian restaurants you are willing to name and stand behind.

    Our conclusion that they suck is based on having visited them, our staff has thousands of man hours living all over the country.

    Idiot.

  2. A funny and worthwhile concept – totally haphazard execution, though.

    Based on certain uninformed remarks (in the Ukrainian and Georgian restaurant reviews) I’d say the site’s author has limited access to non-Russian media sources. Though he rightly demands ‘world class’ restaurants, he definitely lacks a global political outlook. Disappointing for an expat.

    Normally I wouldn’t care if a food reviewer is a propaganda victim, but normally food reviewers have editors to prune the idiotic remarks out.

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS:

    Umm, maybe you didn’t notice but you forgot to name ONE SINGLE RESTAURANT in Russia that is worth the money. Hypocrite!

    Can you name a non-haphazard website that makes a convincing case for the excellence of Russian restaurants? We think not.

    Russian ingrediants are far inferior to those in the West, chefs are far less skilled, corruption is rampant and customer serivce is unheard of. Tourism to Russia is miniscule and Russian food is the butt of jokes the world around. Instead of helping to improve the situation, you merely justify failure. Disappointing to say the least.

  3. Well, I have never set foot in present Russia, my only knowledge of any sort of Russian cooking has been here in America, usually in the homes of Russian friends, or partaking of festive meals at Russian Orthodox churches, (usually prepared lovingly by the good ladies of the ‘Sisterhood’). At such places, the food (which often includes non-
    Russian dishes too) is excellent, the service is with a sincere smile, and it is all done with old-fashioned true Russian-hospitality. But! the few times that I ventured into Russian resturants, in San Francisco, it was a different story. It was rude almost contemptuous service (Oh, you want a refill cup of coffee!?’….said almost as a threat), the food quality was poorish, and I made up my mind to not return again. Why? perhaps…… because, Russians (to greatly generalize) are not famous for being good business-minded people, i.e. they do not have the cultural experience to KNOW that for a successful business, one must be : polite and friendly to the customer, and deliver a quality product or service to the customer. As far as my personal experience of in-their-own-home, good old fashioned Russian hospitality to the guest, it is far superior to my ungenerous/cold Anglo-Saxon American upbringing. Of course, I am speaking about free/prosperous-Russians HAPPY immigrants & Russian-Americans living here, not in the RF. The Russian people that I have personally known, give the BEST food in their house, to the visitor, and wait on him hand and foot. But, sure, that is a remnant of old Russian Christian folk culture, not what’s over there now, apparently….though I do hear of visitors in Russian HOMES, where they do receive the hospitality that I have known here in America.
    Just my observations…….
    Reader Daniel
    P.S. Real Russian dishes, basically peasant-food, though simple and usually not spicy, when prepared properly, are to me, very delicious, especially the soups and stews .OH! precious KASHA!!!….food for the ‘gods’.

    • We are told, that in recent past times in Russia, at least in major cities, the best restuarants were owned and operated by Georgians. Such eateries have been most popular with Russians. As far as what dishes the average Russian truly likes: ‘zakusky’ , orderves: i.e. pickled items, such as fish, cucumbers, wild mushrooms, smoked or salted fish -‘silotky’, etc. all items which can be gathered and prepared at home, from the surrounding mother earth or farms. A heavy meat diet, was never the mainstay of the common Russian, but of the upper classes. What is most likely the poor-service problem in current restuarants in Russia, at least as far as impudent/poor service (i.e. ‘service with a snarl’) it has to do with the barbarising demoralizing influences of the whole communist era, which has brought down the
      very fabric and soul of the nation, i.e. a dog-eat-dog kind of culture, a dehumanized and depressed way and mode of life. As far as poor quality or low supplies of available foods, for home or restuarants: that too is the fault of a poor distribution system, another by-product of communism.
      Just my thoughts……..
      Reader Daniel

  4. It is clear that the guy does not have a large enough budget to enjoy Moscow restaurants. To really enjoy something interesting (not world class, though) one needs a sizable wallet or expense account. Still, excessive cost does not guarantee a good meal, but there is a higher chance of something interesting or passable. The Exile (now at http://www.exiledonline.com) used to have good reviews, but then they really got exiled from Moscow. Afisha (www.afisha.ru) has decent food reviewers. Bottom line – get a huge budget (in the $100’s per person) if you want to enjoy Moscow cuisine, anything less and you are still just outside of the Sov era cooking.

    • This is the thing. If you were to spend hundreds of dollars in a Restaurant in New York of London or even Peoria or Saskatoon, you would invariably get at excellent meal. Spend the same money in Moscow, and you are lucky to get a mediocre meal. Sure it will be better than the cheap restaurants in Russia, but it won’t even be in the same league as a comparable restaurant in Europe or North America.

  5. To ‘NAROD NE VEDETES’,
    Da, da! and connyechno! Spasebo vam! Dosvedaniyeh tovarishch!

  6. I always have Imodium for desert when dining in Moskva.

  7. Such a load of hateful crap, should be business as usual from Kim the weirdo! May I just mention that NOBU, as well as hundreds and thousands of truly local resto’s are happily thriving in Moscow as well as in other cities there?

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS:

    Ummm, sorry to disturb your vodka-induced hallucination, but it may be of interest to you to realize that WE DIDN’T WRITE THIS POST IT’S AN ARTICLE FROM THE MOSCOW TIMES.

    You can go back to your hallucination now.

  8. McDonalds Co is a real cure for westeners in Moscow (if they want to stay well and alive). All Russians are seemingly dreaming about the chance of a lifetime to taste Big Mac or Cheeseburger, but not too many can afford it.
    The Russian food is very unhealthy. I’ve heard about a smart Austria guy who came to Moscow with his portable gaz stove to cook his food at a hotel room. The problem in his case turned out to be to find a gaz filling station in and around Moscow.

    • ” portable gaz stove to cook his food at a hotel room” Is it very smart? Creation of fire-hazardous situation.

      “All Russians are seemingly dreaming about the chance of a lifetime to taste Big Mac or Cheeseburger” I don’t dream.

      “The Russian food is very unhealthy ” More unhealthy than fast food?

      • The guy comes here to so-obviously troll us (that is, the Fascist Foreigners), and only you silly Unkneeling Russians don’t get it. Just wow :)

        • “silly Unkneeling Russians” :)))

          La Russie ne boude pas — elle se recueille

          • Peut-être à force de se recueillir, la Russie aura quelque chose à contribuer une fois de nouveau à l’humanité. Sinon, elle tentera de recueillir un pays diviser en miettes dû à l’ingérence et l’incompétence de son Président et Premier ministre.

            • If you think that I know French, you are wrong. It’s just a famous phrase of prince Gorchakov.

              • I thought so. Citing phrases I see that you do not understand to give yourself an air of sophistication LOL!

                • The apple is the pomaceous fruit of the apple tree, species Malus domestica in the rose family Rosaceae. It is one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits. The tree is small and deciduous, reaching 3 to 12 metres (9.8 to 39 ft) tall, with a broad, often densely twiggy crown.[1] The leaves are alternately arranged simple ovals 5 to 12 cm long and 3–6 centimetres (1.2–2.4 in) broad on a 2 to 5 centimetres (0.79 to 2.0 in) petiole with an acute tip, serrated margin and a slightly downy underside. Blossoms are produced in spring simultaneously with the budding of the leaves. The flowers are white with a pink tinge that gradually fades, five petaled, and 2.5 to 3.5 centimetres (0.98 to 1.4 in) in diameter. The fruit matures in autumn, and is typically 5 to 9 centimetres (2.0 to 3.5 in) diameter. The center of the fruit contains five carpels arranged in a five-point star, each carpel containing one to three seeds.[1]

                  • So what exactly is the point of your post?

                    • funny man 28

                      the point of this is that the apple is the pomaceous fruit of the apple tree, species Malus domestica in the rose family Rosaceae. It is one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits. The tree is small and deciduous, reaching 3 to 12 metres (9.8 to 39 ft) tall, with a broad, often densely twiggy crown.[1] The leaves are alternately arranged simple ovals 5 to 12 cm long and 3–6 centimetres (1.2–2.4 in) broad on a 2 to 5 centimetres (0.79 to 2.0 in) petiole with an acute tip, serrated margin and a slightly downy underside. Blossoms are produced in spring simultaneously with the budding of the leaves. The flowers are white with a pink tinge that gradually fades, five petaled, and 2.5 to 3.5 centimetres (0.98 to 1.4 in) in diameter. The fruit matures in autumn, and is typically 5 to 9 centimetres (2.0 to 3.5 in) diameter. The center of the fruit contains five carpels arranged in a five-point star, each carpel containing one to three seeds.[1]

                • I understand this phrase

  9. hahahaha!!! Czech Service good??? This must be joke. If this is true Russian restauraunts must really be prdel! ;)

  10. http://russian-ukrainian-belarus-history.suite101.com/article.cfm/dining_a_la_russe

    Dining A La Russe

    Mealtime Service in Russia Inspired the French to Change their Style

    Dining a la russe was a style of serving meals where individual dishes were introduced and served to guests in courses.

    Dining a la russe, or service a la russe is a style of dining that is the precursor to our modern style of restaurant dining. Service a la russe is still practiced for formal dining, and while you may see it depicted in movies about upper-crust Victorians or uncomfortable clashes between social classes in the United States, this manner of serving a meal divided into individual courses featuring specific dishes while entertaining guests originated in Russia. Even more interesting, the French, whose culinary sensibilities have unarguably high standards, threw out their own style of dining in favor of the dining a la russe.

    Prince Alexander Kurakin, a Russian diplomat in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, is reportedly the man responsible for introducing the Russian style of dining to the French. The French have had a long-standing curiosity and interest in all things Russian, and this fact coupled with their admiration for Kurakin’s personal opulence probably contributed to the change in mealtime fashion.

    Before Kurakin introduced dining a la russe, the table was cluttered with dishes in great variety all at once. This “family-style dining” or even “buffet-style dining” was made popular in Western Europe during the middle ages, but it caused warm foods to go cold before consumed, dishes to languish uneaten in their own congealing sauces, and flavors to mix and clash with diners’ hungry indiscretion.

    The Russian style of dining introduced a more “civilized” manner of serving foods to guests. Each dish was brought out separately, either already arranged on individual plates for guests or, in the case of meat dishes, carved and served to guests who would then take the cut of their choice. The place setting was also an integral aspect of dining a la russe – it kept utensils organized and clean and brought order to a previously chaotic social custom.

  11. I think that the reason why the site’s creator is so disappointed in the Russian food is the difference in tastes. The Russians are still bogged in the Old World tastes, preferring the old Russian dishes like beluga and salmon caviarwith blini and sour cream, smoked sturgeon, fried porcini and chanterelle mushrooms, wild strawberries, salmon kulebiaka (saumon en crute) , etc

    But Americans are lucky to inherit the good food tradition from England, where any kind of pleasure was traditionally considered a sin and where the food was intentionally made as revolting as possible. I gave my Russian freind our American favourite – sausage and chocolate pancakes on a stick – and he didn’t appreciate the subtlety and vomitted:



    http://www.jimmydean.com/sitecontent/pancakes-sausage/2007/10/10/pancakes-and-sausage-on-a-stick-blueberry.aspx

    Pancakes & Sausage on a Stick: Blueberry (Artificial Flavored)

    “Now your favorite breakfast foods are even easier to eat. We wrapped a delicious sausage inside a sweet blueberry pancake, and put it on a stick to make it portable.”

    Plus the Russians just haven’t developed a taste for American favourite flavours like Artificial Flavor, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN OIL, RED DYE NO.3 and SODIUM PHOSPHATES:

    INGREDIENTS:
    PANCAKE BATTER: ENRICHED BLEACHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID), WATER, SUGAR, ENRICHED WHEAT FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID), ARTIFICIAL FLAVORED BLUEBERRY BITS (INVERT SUGAR, SUGAR, WATER, WHEAT FLOUR [BLEACHED, NIACIN, IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID], ALGIN, POTASSIUM SORBATE [AS A PRESERVATIVE], ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, FD&C RED DYE NO.3 AND FD&C BLUE DYE NO.1), CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF THE FOLLOWING: PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN AND COTTONSEED OIL, NATURAL & ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, SALT, DEXTROSE, LEAVENING (SODIUM ACID PYROPHOSPHATE, SODIUM BICARBONATE), DRIED EGG YOLK, SOY LECITHIN, SOYBEAN OIL, NONFAT DRY MILK. COOKED IN VEGETABLE OIL (CONTAINS ONE OR MORE OF THE FOLLOWING: CORN OIL, COTTONSEED OIL, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN OIL).
    SAUSAGE LINK: PORK, WATER, SUGAR, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF THE FOLLOWING: SODIUM LACTATE, SALT, DEXTROSE, SODIUM PHOSPHATES, SPICES, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL MAPLE FLAVOR (WITH MALTODEXTRIN, MODIFIED FOOD STARCH, CARAMEL COLOR, DEXTROSE, MAPLE SYRUP), MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE, SODIUM DIACETATE, FLAVORINGS.

    Yummy! Especially if you dip it in peanut butter and jelly! Who needs caviar!

  12. If American food weren’t the best tasting in the World, would Americans like it so much that they became the fattest people on Earth?

  13. Take the restaurant that I went to for lunch while working in Russia: Old Man Tsao:

    http://www.restochina.ru/

    Since Moscow has no well-to-do Chinese people, only cheap labourers who came to Russia for higher salaries, Moscow doesn’t have Chinese-American foods. Instead it has to settle for importing the best chefs from China and eat authentic Chinese food. There I had the best dish I ever ate:

    Баранина с трепангами на раскаленной сковороде

    I washed it down with my favourite beer – Leffe from Belgium – which they didn’t have in the American-style pasteurised bottled version and had to settle for the fresh draft version instead.

    Another favourite of mine was at a Thai restaurant: sturgeon in spicy curry. Yummy!

    No wonder this guy hates Russian restaurants so much.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s