A Taste of the Suburbs

MTVkus Cafe offers a stylish retreat from its setting in a shopping center.
There was a time when cafes in suburban shopping centers were little better than cafeterias, or at best a fast-food outlet facing onto a food court. Things have come quite a long way over the last few years, if the recently opened Vkus Cafe is any example.

Hidden down a corridor on the Gvozd-2 mall's third floor, the cafe is a refuge from the crowded shopping area. It's fairly large, with split levels divided into smoking and non-smoking areas. Aiming for a flavor-of-the-moment design with its large cylindrical lampshades and cocoa color scheme, it even has something resembling a huge chocolate bar running along one wall. But upon closer inspection, the design is more interesting than it first appears. Its psychedelic patterned chairs and groovy beaded lamp coverings give the cafe a strangely vintage feel, as if it had been put together using funky materials found in a second-hand shop. Even the plasma screens show old-school Tom and Jerry cartoons.

The cafe describes itself as preparing "city cuisine." What that means in practice is that it serves pretty much the same fare that can be found everywhere else around town. There are cold starters such as carpaccio (beef -- 230 rubles, salmon -- 200 rubles), tomato with mozzarella (250 rubles) and potato with herring (175 rubles). Salads include ruccola with cherry tomatoes and Parmesan (200 rubles), Caesar salad (plain -- 180 rubles, chicken breast -- 280 rubles, salmon -- 210 rubles and prawn -- 250 rubles) and a Greek salad (230 rubles). Vkus Cafe also offers beer snacks such as chicken wings (250 rubles), BBQ pork ribs (350 rubles) and a variety of quesadilla (chicken -- 195 rubles, mushroom -- 170 rubles, meat -- 195 rubles, salmon -- 210 rubles).

The draft beer range is decent starting with Zolotaya Bochka (115 rubles for a half-liter), Kozyol (125 rubles a half-liter), Krusovice dark and light (185 rubles a half-liter), the rather unusual Blanche de Brussels (195 rubles a half-liter) and the rare cherry-flavored Kriek (125 rubles for 250 milliliters).

Vkus Cafe, 36 Prospekt Andropova, on the third floor of the Gvozd-2 retail center, 783-5896, noon-midnight, M. Kolomenskaya.