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.