Is Cafe Pushkin (Moscow) really that expensive?
Sounds excellent but pricey based on posts on this site, and others...but I've also read that it can be around the equivilant of $25 a person for dinner.
Anyone know what a realistic price is for a meal there? ie. Worth going to on a small to moderate budget?
Cafe Pushkin is a must-see. It really has the best service in Moscow, the most authentic menu, a great interior, perfect location and the overall experience is something worthwhile.
First of all, Pushkin has two floors and a Konditerskaya - a confectionery (cakes, tarts, tea). The latter has a separate entrance and is a waste of time and money. Skip it. The first floor of Pushkin is cheaper than the second (they have slightly different menus (both just as good) and are called the Library and Apothecary). Just make it clear that you would like the first floor.
Once seated, you will see that you can order for any amount of money you would like (http://www.cafe-pushkin.ru/ - google translate can help): you can get a soup for $10-12 (very recommended), a salad for 15-20, a desert for up to 25 (the one that costs $25 and is also called Pushkin is to die for) or a main meal for 50-100 or more. You can come and order whatever you like. No one will make any unhappy faces or comments if you just get a bowl of Russian soup and tea and pay $25 for all of it with tips.
Really, go and see for yourself! I doubt that you'll regret it.
Cafe Pushkin can easily be very expensive, but it does not have to be. A pot of tea is just 40 roubles for example, or a little over $1 at current exchange rates. Some main courses, including Russian dumplings (pelmeni) cost under $20, and the portions are pretty generous. So with a main course, a soft drink (or may be even a beer) and a tea, you can get away with $25 a head and still enjoy the decor, setting, very polite service etc. Of course you have to be careful - some dishes, especially those including caviar, are very expensive, and wine starts from around $10 a glass and sharply goes upwards (wine generally is very expensive in Russian restaurants). For a 3 course meal with some alcohol, I would allow $100 per person or more.
I am also told they do good value set lunches on week days, but am not sure of the prices.
I was looking up a restaurant and saw this on Pushkin in Moscow, even though old. There is no way a restaurant like Pushkin goes for anything close to $25. The restaurant is absolutely exquisite, and I've eaten all over Europe for many years, and I think this is the most beautiful restaurant I've ever eaten in. We ate there a couple years ago for a lunch and it averaged about $75 a person with vodka's, no wine, but we did not have the largest lunch, some had lamb chops, others the pelmini, soups, salads etc. Well the reception to us was quite cordial, after we got the table sorted out, I made reservations (my guide did, I should say) way in advance and I requested the Library and we got put in a different room but they did come through and found a table where we wanted to be. This kind of thing happens a lot in "east" Europe, they just usurp your position if they have a larger party they want to accomodate and put you in an inferior place. I just stand my ground and if I don't get my wishes they will compensate by giving us free alcohol or something else. The owner, Andrey Dellos, restaurant impresario and person who created Pushkin certainly did dump a lot of rubles into it, so prices not surprising. He created also the Konditerskaya Pushkin for pastries etc adjoining it. Also the restaurant Turandot, which is a ornate fantasy. You can see this on a website I stumbled across www.russkayastorona,ru/moscow/restaur... It is in Engish, good picures inside and out, but no prices or menus.
If you are looking for "cheap eats" then you need to stay in the more local ethnic restaurants. We went to several from the Baltshug Hotel, across the river from Red Square, like Taras Bulbas, charming and not that expenise. Even Gudunov right off Red Square near the Metropol Hotel is a charming place like a dacha inside, painted rib-vaulted ceilings, folk music in the evening, flavored vodkas and closer to $50pp. A nice experience.
The Antinori chianti wine family has a few restaurants in Vienna, Florence, Zurich and now Moscow, but the prices in Moscow start around $200-300pp and these prices are not at that level in their other towns.
The food at Pushkin we thought was very good and for what we paid I think we had value in the food. I would not miss the experience and if you are weak over the prices, do lunch as it is much easier to get a table and not so crowded so service is better. We thought the service was paced right, we did not wait a long time between courses nor spend all afternoon for lunch, but I would say we were there about 2 hours, and for the $$ you want to be able to soak in the fantastic atmosphere. By the way they don't allow any picture taking, don't want anybody copying the interior. They are quite clear on this and enforce this policy.
There is a double standard in Russian, we foreigners just pay more than the Russian Citizen, and unless you speak fluent Russian, and look like a Russian, you will not get the cheaper prices unless your guide quietly buys the museum tickets. But, then again they are registered guides and so naturally assumed they are taking tourists around. With hotels rooms in the class-acts going up near $1000 a night in season, the restaurants are in line with that. I usually figure on $100pp without being in the most expensive restaurannts. Look at the price of ballet tickets to Bolschoi, we had our guide buy tickets and they were at least better priced. Karen Pasold, Classic Europe, Dallas, Texas
re: Karen Pasold
From Russia with gusto!
The pricing in Russia is very predictable: the highest the better.
Has to do with the facts that if it is too cheap is not good; there will-not be the right crowd; is not going to be considered a place to be seen.
From my experience, and I live in Moscow from 1992, the biggest part of the investment in opening a restaurant, or any other location fitting into the food and beverage category, goes in the styling and furnishing, the best restrooms ever seen!
The rest is relative, this includes from basic ingredients to hygiene.
Cafe' Pushkin is considered a place for tourists and foreign biz people, [the place is mentioned in all travel guides]. The food is average and overpriced, but the place is nice and worthed a visit, $25 is probably what you can pay for a cup of tea.
Regarding the pastry, 'Konditerskaya Pushkin' - very little is prepared in-house the rest is delivered in the morning in the worst hygienic conditions I've ever seen. Couple of days ago I was passing by and I just could not believe at the way the pastry trays were handled. Too bad I did not have a camera with me.
Tourandot is ok only if somebody invites you and pays the bill.
Cantinetta Antinori is a franchise, I hope that Antinori family is not involved directly, because they serve the most overcooked pasta ever, and no matter how many times I have been there and try to meet the Italian chef, he was never around.
I remain an optimist and still look for a place where food is the priority.
That's all for now. Hugs from Moscow.
We spent about $100 per person, not including wine. The food was good. People-watching was the best part of the experience. However, this is the type of upscale restaurant that can be found in any large world city (New York, Paris, London, Tokyo, HK, etc.). For a truly memorable experience I recommend you go to the Central House of Writers, where the food is outstanding as is the service and the location (I had the best sturgeon I've ever had there!). Another unique choice is Shinok (Ukrainan), which is extremely bizarre (it has a courtyard with live animals INSIDE the restaurant!!!) but where you can sample really good salo, which is raw pig fat cut in squares.