Ararat Park Hyatt
Ararat Park Hyatt, an upscale business hotel, is well located, 10 minutes from the Kremlin and Red Square in one direction and just off of the famed shopping street Tverskoy Boulevard in the other.
The rooms are lovely and spacious and with a modern flare. The sheets are soft, the towels and robes plush, and the amenities first-rate, including a water boiler, an espresso machine and good wifi. The hotel of course also has a spa, business center and excellent service.
On our first stay, just one night before our road trip through the Golden Ring, they upgraded us to the Presidential Suite. The largest room I’ve ever stayed in in my life, almost as big as my house, with views out to the Kremlin and the Bolshoi Theater. The multi-room suite is dated, a throwback to the 80s, but well-tended, and as a free add-on who’s complaining?
The breakfast buffet is way too expensive, 2450 rubles ($32USD), but typical for a hotel in this price range and oh so good. Offerings include a delightful selection of European cheeses, not the Russian stuff, and yummy cured fish including caviar. The breads are good, but I’ve had better. The fruit is nicely done as are the pastries, desserts and cereals. Coffee included in the buffet is individually served to your table. You can also order hot items à la carte instead of the buffet.
Set off the main street, Lakvalakva’s warm dining room has a mid-century vibe with brick walls, upholstered chairs and wood tables. Minimally appointed bookshelves divide the large room into cozier spaces.
The menu focuses on seasonal locally produced ingredients. We started with the lightly salted sea trout served with cucumber on a bed of cream and the deer heart served with celeriac puree, crispy onion and a spicy cowberry ice cream – a heavenly combination.
For mains we tried the duck confit served with a buckwheat risotto and a generously sized white fish. Both dishes were simple and well-executed.
Dessert, the Ptichie Moloko, was our least favorite dish of the evening. A bland cake painstakingly covered in a thin layer of chocolate and served with grapes (described as mixed berries on the menu).
Georgian (the country) restaurants are popular in Russia offering a wide selection of interesting and flavorful dishes. Tkemali, a top 10 TripAdvisor pick, is a great place to experience the cuisine. The dining room is warm and casual with exposed brick walls, upholstered banquettes and comfy pillows.
We ordered the lamb neck off the front page of the menu – a super succulent dish of fall of the bone tender and flavorful lamb on a bed of barley risotto. (The English menu describes it as buckwheat but it’s really barley.) The dish is large enough to share, especially if you pair it with an appetizer or two or a vegetable side dish.
The whole dorade (bream) was also beautifully cooked.
Service was friendly and attentive. This restaurant is probably best for larger groups so you can order more dishes to share and taste.
The Sicilian Bottega’s large open dining room is a 5 minute walk from the Bolshoi Theater. With such a location reservations are recommended before a performance. The place was hopping at 5PM on a Sunday.
The extensive menu serves mostly Italian dishes with a few other international favorites thrown in. They also have a short Sicilian specialty menu. I read on TripAdvisor several reviews suggesting that their wine list selections were a good value. This is not true. Compared to other restaurants we’ve visited in our recent travels, their wines are overpriced. We ended up with an OK wine for over $50USD. Food prices are also on the high side, but I would expect this with their location.
We started with the focaccia and the caponata. The focaccia, served warm, was tasty and caponata, a classic Italian vegetable medley, while good and a reasonable portion for two to share was not outstanding.
For mains we ordered the pappardelle with a boar ragout and the frutti del mare spaghetti. Both dishes had great flavor and were a decent size, but not huge.
For dessert the classic tiramisu – a well done traditional preparation.
This is a convenient restaurant for before theater dining. I wouldn’t bother with it otherwise.
October 8-14, 2019
For links to all the posts in this series see the Russia page.