A Sweet Slice of France

MTWhile Monpansie may aim for elegance, the prices are democratic.
French restaurants have been having a hard time of late. Franco food has fallen seriously out of fashion, with Italian taking its place in the hearts and stomachs of the city's diners; only Jean-Jacques seems able to resist this trend. Italian eateries have been taking the city by storm, snatching a large slice of both the upmarket and democratic segments. French restaurants, on the other hand, have been opening less and less frequently -- so the arrival of a new democratic French cafe is of some interest.

Monpansie recently opened on Ulitsa Timura Frunze, a street it shares with the bohemian eateries Keks and Suzy Wong. Unlike its neighbors, however, Monpansie takes a more classical approach in its design and menu. The furniture is formal with its deep red upholstering on white painted frames. Parisian cityscape paintings hang around the cafe's walls. Glossy magazines lie stacked on the windowsills, free for guests to peruse.

While Monpansie may be aiming for an air of elegance, the menu is decidedly democratic. Salads include the Monpansie with mixed salad leaves, chicken liver, slices of mandarin and pine nuts with a honey and French mustard sauce (250 rubles) and the Nadin Kupriyanov with mixed salad leaves, chicken fillet, cherry tomatoes, Bulgarian peppers, pine nuts and Lyonnaise sauce (280 rubles). Soups range from 160 rubles for gazpacho up to cream of porcini with truffle aroma (230 rubles). The old French classic, onion soup Parisian-style, costs 160 rubles. Mains include beef medallions with three-pepper sauce (450 rubles) and pike perch Marseille-style with a spinach and pine-nut sauce served with rice (240 rubles).

Breakfast is served from 9 a.m. to noon and includes the usual lineup, such as fried eggs, omelets, and porridges for 80 to 90 rubles each.

Wine starts at 160 rubles a glass for French red or white and bottles begin at around 900 rubles. Draft beer costs 120 rubles a half-liter for Kronenbourg 1664.

36/5 Ul. Timura Frunze, 246-8438, 9 a.m.-11 p.m., M. Park Kultury.