How Much Is the Fish

MTAt Parus, diners can gaze into an aquarium while supping on seafood.
Many a timid expat sticks within the confines of the Garden Ring, rarely venturing further out, and certainly never past the Third Ring Road. But sometimes going further provides dividends in the form of some fine dining at prices that can't be found downtown. One such far-flung find is the restaurant Parus.

Located roughly between Sokolniki and Izmailovsky parks, Parus is a like a secret treasure trove that only the locals know about. The small seafood restaurant is on the ground floor of a posh building just off Preobrazhenskaya Ploshchad. Although it has only one compact room, it is elaborately, yet fairly tastefully, decorated with marine motifs. There are seaside-themed plaster moldings, aquatic-colored recessed lighting and even a small strip of transparent floor with seashells visible underneath. A large plasma screen shows Animal Planet (minus sound), but for more peaceful gazing there is a pair of porthole-shaped aquariums beside the tables for two.

The menu features classic Mediterranean seafood dishes. Cold starters include four different mixed plates -- fish (300 rubles), cheese (380 rubles), mushroom (160 rubles) and Italian salamis (360 rubles). Interesting salads include warm octopus and potato (250 rubles) and smoked eel with chicken, cashews and a soy-and-mayonnaise sauce (240 rubles).

Besides the vegetarian soup options, such as asparagus (260 rubles) and cream of broccoli (160 rubles), there are some seafood options including ukha (250 rubles) and cream of salmon (280 rubles).

The seafood comes to the fore in the mains section. Besides a selection of fish available by weight, starting at 120 rubles per 100 grams of tuna, there is an interesting range of more sophisticated dishes. Calamari stuffed with prawns and cheese under a green sauce costs 360 rubles, turbot garnished with star fruit in an orange sauce with pink peppercorns is 380 rubles, while black cod with wild rice and a cuttlefish ink sauce goes for 540 rubles.

The wine selection is large and starts at 160 rubles a glass for either red or white.

6 Preobrazhenskaya Ploshchad, 652-8994/8186, noon-11 p.m., M. Preobrazhenskaya Ploshchad.