THE DISH: Angle Vert
Angle Vert//56 Suvorovsky Prospekt//Tel. 274 8231//Menu in Russian and English//Open 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.//(from 11 a.m. at weekends)//Lunch for two (without alcohol)//3,300 rubles ($107)
Published: December 19, 2012 (Issue # 1740)
Missing the mark
It’s no secret that it is not uncommon in Russia to come across wildly tacky and ostentatious displays of wealth, from outlandishly expensive sports cars to gaudy jewels and over-the-top fur coats. Angle Vert is another example of this attempt at elegance gone horribly wrong.
Upon first glance the restaurant seems to have achieved a chic atmosphere. High-backed Victorian chairs stand at those tables that are not surrounded by modern couches and armchairs, and thick maroon curtains adorn the floor-to-ceiling windows that make up one wall. Mirrors of various sizes hang at random around the room, and chrome lamps stand in the corners. Overall the desired atmosphere seems to be sort of chic-modern, with soft jazzy-pop music playing in the background to complete the experience.
Upon closer inspection, however, the gaudiness of the décor becomes glaringly obvious. The maroon curtains, for example, are made from a hideous velvet material and are backlit by tacky purple ceiling lights, like something that might be seen in a nightclub. This is contradicted, however, by the opposing wall, which is covered in grey wallpaper that looks like something out of a hospital waiting room. The effect is that at any given time you either feel like you are dining in a club or a nursing home, depending on which wall you are looking at.
Despite the rather distasteful décor, the menu looked promising. It offers a variety of dishes, including pumpkin soup, veal, various seafood dishes and a 9,000-ruble ($292) plate of lobster. While sipping on two very good cappuccinos (180 rubles each, $6) we made several attempts to order. This turned into something of an ordeal as our waiter kept returning to tell us that the selected dishes were unavailable, in true Soviet style. It was unclear whether they were not being served on that particular day or whether they had been removed from the menu entirely. Either way, it took three tries before we were successful. After rejecting an order for gnocchi with goat cheese and sundried tomatoes and for pelmeni with veal, the kitchen finally agreed to rustle up a bowl of miso soup (250 rubles, $8) and another of borsch (350 rubles, $11). The miso soup was good, boasting homemade tofu and a delicious lemon flavor. Furthermore, it was accompanied by an asterisk that described the dish as a “balanced combination of food that has been specially cooked saving all vitamins and useful properties.” The borsch also received good reviews, although unfortunately it had not been prepared to save all of its “useful properties.”
The soups were followed by a serving of pasta Bolognese (340 rubles, $11) and lamb with berry sauce (1,210 rubles, $39). The pasta, while smothered in Parmesan cheese, was standard spaghetti Bolognese: Enjoyable but with no extraordinary qualities. The lamb was also decent, although rather bland without the sweet berry sauce, which was similar to fruit chutney. Accompanying the lamb dish was a whole, unpeeled, baked onion, an original and unexpectedly tasty addition to the dish.
Lunch was followed by dessert in the form of a pear baked with ginger (250 rubles, $8) and accompanied by homemade ice cream. Both the pear and the ice cream were superb, their flavors complementing each other perfectly.
While the unavailability of our first few choices was disappointing, the meal was ultimately a pleasant one, although not outstanding. Angle Vert is certainly not a bad place to dine. The quality of the food, however, coupled with the lackluster atmosphere and tacky décor, leads to the conclusion that there are more interesting restaurants in the city to visit over this one if given the option.