Ryumochnaya Revival

MTAlthough Sukhoi Zakon is a shot bar, most patrons seem to prefer beer.
Ryumochnayas are making a comeback. These drinking dens of old, with their standup-only service, limited selection of strong spirits and lack of any substantial food, were certainly simple affairs. Yet they were popular among drinkers -- especially those who might have otherwise split a bottle among friends in the courtyard. The new generation of budget bars offering a wider selection of food and beverages (and, no less importantly, toilet facilities) soon spelled the end of these ryumochnayas, however.

Striking a blow for nostalgia, the recently opened chain Sukhoi Zakon Ryumochnaya aims to mix the flavor of such watering holes with the comfort of water closets, hot food, chairs and the like. The no-frills interiors have a gray/green color scheme, basic furnishings and brown paper signs tacked on the walls; the only decoration is an ironic collection of Soviet propaganda posters. These are the kind of bars that get really smoky at night.

The inexpensive menu, on the other hand, is quite comprehensive. Salads start at 37 rubles for one with radish and stretch up to 119 rubles for a Caesar. The zakuski selection is extensive, featuring all the vodka favorites, such as salted pickles (22 rubles) and herring with onion (85 rubles). For beer lovers, there are boiled prawns (135 grams for 109 rubles or 270 grams for 209 rubles) and chicken wings (six wings for 125 rubles or a dozen for 229 rubles). Even more serious options include various sausages around the 159 ruble mark and even beef Stroganoff (95 rubles).

The vodka selection is appropriately huge, starting at a mere 32 rubles for Yamskaya (although on a recent visit, the Taganskaya Ploshchad venue was not serving vodka because of license delays).

Sukhoi Zakon also sells what has to be some of the cheapest draft beer in Moscow -- 39.50 rubles for a half-liter of Arsenalnoye. The best deals, however, would have to be the special combo offers, which include such selections as the "konkretny set" -- 100 grams of vodka, a half-liter of beer, a meat salad and a herring sandwich, all for 199 rubles.

19 Gzhelsky Per., 229-6204, noon-11 p.m., M. Ploshchad Ilicha; for other addresses see www.suhoy-zakon.net.