Poetic Beers at Byron

MTPreviously an Asian eatery, Cafe Byron now serves a wide range of beer.
Cafe Byron has recently taken over where the Taiwanese restaurant Ostrov Formoza once traded. Although the new eatery is purportedly a beer restaurant, the interior is certainly not that of a typical beer hall. By the bar at the entrance stands a tall vertical aquarium with diminutive goldfish. The color scheme is a mix of gold chair covers, pale rose tablecloths and pastel orange walls. Ornate window frames run across one side of the first hall and plastic vines cover a strip of the ceiling. A drum kit fills one corner, as the cafe has live music on Fridays and Saturdays. The tables here are packed tight -- so close that it's hard to imagine how every table could be occupied simultaneously.

The menu is not typical for a beer restaurant either. Salads start from 180 rubles for an Olivier or fresh vegetables with soft cheese and basil dressing. The priciest is a warm Mediterranean seafood salad for 520 rubles. Hot starters range from 140 rubles for mushroom julienne, up to 590 rubles for foie gras flambe with berry sauce and mango. Soups begin at 110 rubles for borshch or minestrone, while the most expensive is tomato with seafood for 330 rubles. Mains include such dishes as trout stuffed with cheese served with potato and spinach (340 rubles), duck breast with apple and caramel sauce (310 rubles) and lamb chops with a demi-glace sauce and grilled vegetables (860 rubles).

There are just two beers on tap, but they are at least unusual. Czech Dzban sells for 140 rubles a half-liter, while German Hefeweizen is 180 rubles a half-liter. Perhaps this cafe's most enticing feature is its list of exotic bottled beers, which includes 21 varieties hailing from Belgium, Austria, Germany and England and ranging in price from 140 to 210 rubles. There are also some German brews in 2-liter collector bottles -- dark Bernauer for 2,800 rubles and Flensburger for 3,100 rubles.

23 Leontyevsky Per., Bldg. 1, 629-9680, 11 a.m.-11 p.m., M. Pushkinskaya.