THE DISH: A bone to pick

THE DISH: A bone to pick

Obormot (Bonehead)//3 Dumskaya Ulitsa//Tel: 921 2945//Open Sunday through Thursday from noon to 11 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 6 a.m.//Menu in English and Russian//Dinner for two without alcohol 1,540 rubles ($47)

Published: June 27, 2012 (Issue # 1715)

Eating out in Russia can be a stressful experience for foreigners — especially for those who speak limited Russian. It is not uncommon to encounter slow service or unhelpful servers in restaurants and neither are ever a welcome addition to a meal out, particularly as standards are, on the whole, improving.

Unfortunately, the service at Obormot is typically Russian. The waiter seemed eager to leave the table as quickly as possible, and had to be called back twice before the order was placed completely. The two-course meal took three hours to execute and the idea of splitting the bill appeared altogether alien to the staff and was declared impossible, despite the fact that separate bills had been asked for — and agreed to — before the meal began. To add insult to injury, the advertised 20-percent discount between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. from Monday to Friday was not possible, we were told, because by the time the meal was finished, it was past 4.

Dumskaya Ulitsa’s reputation for seedy, grubby bars makes it an unlikely place for a restaurant, and one gets the impression that a great deal of effort has been made to make the inside of Obormot classy and tasteful: The walls are covered with a pattern of tulips, and the sofas are equally pretty, although perhaps not the most convenient for eating at a table. However, the vague smell of paint, the lack of other customers and the eclectic background music — which started off well with some funky jazz and slowly deteriorated to ear-grating pop — somewhat detracted from the pleasant aesthetic, resulting in an overall lack of atmosphere rather than the creation of an upmarket one.

To give credit where credit is due, the restaurant redeems itself slightly with its menus. There is a broad selection of sushi, sashimi and rolls, and for the more conservative diner, an interesting European menu. From simple salads, to somewhat overpriced pastas, to a salmon fillet with white wine and kiwi sauce at a very reasonable 340 rubles ($10.40), there is something for everyone.

The adjoining bar, Baikonur, offers a very extensive drink menu, offering just about every spirit and cocktail, with European wines at 200 rubles ($6.10) a glass and a nice range of soft drinks. Here, however, the service fell down once again. After ordering a ginger ale (100 rubles, $3) and a ginger lemonade (150 rubles, $4.60), two drinks very similar in both appearance and taste arrived. It was only upon questioning that the waiter admitted the ginger ale was out of stock and that he had brought two lemonades instead. The drink was, fortunately, very satisfying, as were the spicy shrimp rolls (190 rubles, $5.80) and the crab, tuna and salmon yaki (70 rubles each, $2.15). The promising-sounding beef medallions in a cranberry, juniper berry and honey sauce (410 rubles, $12.50) were a disappointment, though: The presentation was careless, the meat overcooked and the sauce, in which only juniper was distinguishable, gelatinous.

The dessert menu is limited and uninspiring, and even more so when the cappuccino, pistachio, vanilla and strawberry ice creams are all out of stock (which only became apparent after attempting to order them), leaving only chocolate available. Nevertheless, the New York cheesecake (240 rubles, $7.30) was a success, if a little rich. Again, the more ambitious dish, a “drunk” pear with a sparkling wine and cream sauce, pine nuts and ice cream (190 rubles, $5.80), was an unmitigated disaster. The pear was sliced, poached and covered in sauce, giving it the appearance of a gratin dauphinois. It was sickly sweet and the pine nuts did nothing to compliment the dish.

All in all, the experience at Obormot was not one to be repeated. Be it the pine nuts or the poor service, this customer left with a sour taste in her mouth.

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