Belgium in Belyayevo

MTThe popularity of Jan Primus may be a result of its non-traditional menu.
Jan Primus -- which made headlines last week after a police lieutenant was accused of stealing one of its statues -- deserves attention for another reason: it's one of the best beer restaurants to open in a long time. Not since the arrival of the Yorsh chain has the capital seen such a fresh approach to the genre, but that's not to say that Yorsh and Jan Primus have much in common. Yorsh follows a river-fishing theme, while Jan Primus is a Belgian beer restaurant. They are, however, both located far from the center.

Moscow has other Belgian beer restaurants, but none can match Jan Primus' scale and grandeur. It is simply huge, with seating for some 200 people, yet on Saturday nights every table is reserved by 5 p.m. The main hall has an innovative, contemporary design, with walls molded in sweeping plaster swirls. The long bar has lithe metal figures standing along its length, and a modern open kitchen completes the picture.

Besides facing little competition in this far-flung neighborhood, part of Jan Primus' success could well be due to the fact that it brings something fresh to the table. In a town where a focus on beer inevitably means German cuisine on the menu, Jan Primus offers something different -- no sausages for starters (or mains for that matter). Instead it serves four varieties of mussels, starting from 260 rubles for the confusingly named "Escargot" with garlic butter, and ranging up to 450 rubles for "Poulette" mussels cooked in white wine with celery, mushrooms and cream. Another interesting section is the flammekueches, or Flemish pizzas. They come in 23- and 33-centimeter sizes and are priced from 90 rubles for a small bacon and onion flammekueche, up to 245 rubles for a large flammekueche with goat cheese, Parma ham and tomato.

Naturally, there is an excellent range of draft Belgian beers such as Timmermans Kriek (145 rubles for 300 milliliters) and Chimay Triple (105 rubles for 250 milliliters). There is also house red and light draft beer, by the glass at 350 milliliters for 90 rubles, and also by the ceramic barrel, from 360 rubles for 1.5 liters.

27a Miklukho-Maklaya Ul., 336-5755, 11 a.m.-6 a.m., M. Belyayevo.