Fit for a Thrifty Feast

MTPakhlava orients itself to banquets, but welcomes individual diners.
If you're looking for an old-school banquet hall with prices that are hard to beat, then Pakhlava certainly fits the bill. It's huge, with a main hall that could certainly fit at least 200 people -- according to its business card. There's space for a band at one end of the hall and even a modest disco ball, while the large, heavyset columns and chiffon drapes strung between them add a classical touch. It may not be downtown, in fact, it's far from the center, but you'd be hard-pressed to find this kind of place in a central location -- especially with these prices.

Naturally, the mainly Azeri menu has a special banquet section that offers dishes in party-pleasing portions, such as whole stuffed piglet (1 kilogram -- 1,200 rubles), baked sturgeon (1 kilogram -- 1,800 rubles), goose stuffed with apple (1 kilogram -- 1,000 rubles) and three varieties of plov (all 1 kilogram for 800 rubles).

More individual-sized dishes include classics, such as eggplant stuffed with walnuts (140 rubles), tomatoes stuffed with cheese and mayonnaise (120 rubles), as well as more contemporary starters, such as Caesar salads (chicken -- 180 rubles, prawn -- 200 rubles, salmon -- 200 rubles) and a some dishes that seem like a fusion of the two, such as ruccola with beef tongue (220 rubles). Soups range from an Azeri doshbara dumpling soup (150 rubles) to an Italian minestrone (120 rubles).

Mains include two sadzh dishes (beef -- 290 rubles, lamb -- 300 rubles), Azeri plov (190 rubles), dolma (180 rubles) and dzhyz-byz with lamb's liver, kidney, heart and potato (140 rubles). There are over a dozen varieties of shashliks and lyula kebabs (160-250 rubles). Azeri wine costs 370 rubles a bottle and draft beer starts at 90 rubles for a half-liter of Stary Melnik (Efes -- 100 rubles and Warsteiner --110 rubles).

Pakhlava: 3 Ul. Lyotchika Babushkina, 471-4771/4062, 11 a.m-midnight, M. Sviblovo.