25 October 2006

Invasion Report: Food for the Troops (GRABLI)

Now that Moscow has tasted the upper-end of dining with 1000$ cuisines from Georgian barbeque to France fillet-mignons, the investors are now realising the need to feed the middle and lower-end (where we sadly belong in this city of us dollar billionaires).

For those of you who has been sick of the McDonald's oily stink from a thousand yards, this city has been offering a "set" of restaurants ranging from the dacha designed the Yolki-Palki to surprisingly "cow" designed the Mu-Mu, where you can actually see the chefs cooking (God bless the concept of Open Kitchen) and the non-russian speakers can just point out what they want to eat (I think Mu-Mu has an English menu; but the chefs don't understand English anyway).

On my first week in Moscow, one of my best friends, Katya, took me to a similar restaurant, Garbli, which has happened to be the best I heve been to so far.

"Run for the food..."

The rest is from the Moscow Times (whose author seems to agree with me)

The first Grabli -- or "rake" -- opened near Alexeyevskaya metro station on Prospekt Mira in late 2003, bringing Moscow the so-called "free-flow" self-service and open-kitchen format seen at the massive Lido complex in Riga. With its huge selection of affordable food -- the average bill is said to be 200 rubles -- this first 350-seat Grabli unsurprisingly proved a hit.

A second, 500-seat Grabli opened last year at the Moscow State Construction University on Yaroslavskoye Shosse. Now the chain has gained a foothold in the center, with the opening in late August of a Grabli on Pyatnitskaya Ulitsa.

With a self-serve dining area, cafe, bar and summer terrace, the three-level, 1,200-square-meter restaurant has capacity to seat 450 people inside and 100 outside. While the first Grabli has a country style, the new restaurant's theme is fin-de-siecle fantasy, in keeping with its location in a renovated 19th-century estate house.

As at the other restaurants in the chain, the menu consists of 200 hot and cold dishes, including mussels baked under cheese (23 rubles apiece), borshch (55-90 rubles), a 59-ruble vegetable salad bar and a 75-ruble fruit salad bar.

According to Rozhnikovsky's press office, the opening is part of a $60 million project to create about 20 Grabli restaurants around Moscow in the next five years. The participation of a city government minister and the central administrative district prefect in the opening was no coincidence -- the project has the support of City Hall, which has long been keen to foster the development of "people's restaurants" in the capital.

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