A Cafe With a View

MTShokolad is the perfect place for a blini brunch with Kremlin views.
In many ways, Cafe Shokolad is a typical fashionable downtown cafe. The design is certainly in the flavor of the moment -- the color scheme is predominantly chocolate-brown, with a little gold and silver. There's a mix of oversized minimalist lampshades and opulent chandeliers. A wall-sized photo of a bejeweled woman pulling on an arm-length mauve glove dominates one side of the cafe, and a similarly sized photo of chocolate-covered fingers grasping a strawberry is at the other. It's the kind of design found in countless high-end cafes around town. But Cafe Shokolad has one advantage that few others can boast -- wonderful views across to the Kremlin from its huge windows.

While its Japanese and European menu is definitely no bastion of originality, it does have some unexpected bargains. Where else can you find 95 ruble half-liter draft Sibirskaya Korona beer with a view of the Kremlin? All four soups -- mushroom, sorrel, solyanka and porcini -- sell for just 140 rubles, which gives many a bohemian student cafe a run for their money. Other reasonable options include miso soup with crab (120 rubles), udon noodles (230 rubles), yakisoba (230 rubles) and three varieties of sandwiches: chicken (200 rubles), duck breast or salmon (both 240 rubles).

Given the rent this place must command, there are plenty of pricier options as well, such as sea bass risotto (460 rubles), lamb shank with red wine sauce (480 rubles), sea scallops with carrot and curry sauce (450 rubles) and a yakitori assortment (750 rubles). Pricier beers include Staropramen (145 rubles) and unfiltered Franziskaner (210 rubles).

Cafe Shokolad works round the clock and has a breakfast menu that runs from 4 a.m. to midday. The "good morning" set breakfast offers a choice of either a fried egg or omelet served with saffron and chives, a croissant with jam, and either black tea or coffee -- all of which comes for a total of 110 rubles. Other breakfast dishes include porridges for 60 rubles and blini with butter (50 rubles), salmon (170 rubles) or red caviar (280 rubles). Freshly squeezed juices start at 160 rubles.

6 Ul. Volkhonka, 24 hours, M. Borovitskaya.