A Democratic Debut

MTDem is a casual spot with a relaxed vibe and a straightforward menu.
According to the staff of the recently opened Dem restaurant, "Dem" is short for "democratic," which seems fairly appropriate. The cafe, as it calls itself, is indeed democratic in the egalitarian sense of the word, or at least the atmosphere is.

Dem is located in a large red-brick basement, but manages to avoid resembling a typical beer bar basement thanks to regular white ceilings rather than arched cellar-type ones. On the walls hang black-and-white photos of old Moscow architectural monuments, many of which no longer exist. Plasma screens shows sporting matches. A Flirtanika dating club meeting was dominating the dining room during a recent visit, and a waitress said the group gathers regularly in the cafe.

The menu has a strong focus on classic beer snacks and the like, although the prices aren't exactly at beer-hall levels. The large range of fried toasts (all 125 rubles) include white bread, black bread, spicy, garlic and cheese. Buffalo chicken wings cost either 345 rubles for eight or 485 rubles for 16 wings. Boiled prawns go for 425 rubles, while the more substantial pig's knuckle sells for 1,225 rubles.

Less beer-oriented options include fresh vegetable salad (235 rubles), tongue with horseradish (225 rubles) and roast beef with a tuna sauce (345 rubles). Salads include Greek (245 rubles) and prawn with avocado (285 rubles). A plain Caesar salad costs 335 rubles, with anchovies, it is 365 rubles.

As seems almost compulsorily these days in Moscow, there is an Italian section with all the usual suspects such as salmon carpaccio (475 rubles), beef carpaccio (395 rubles) and pastas starting from 296 rubles for a classic carbonara.

Probably the least democratic items on the menu are the draft beers, which all cost 250 rubles a half-liter and include Budweiser light or dark and the positively posh (in this town) Beamish Irish stout.

Dem: 23 Bolshaya Bronnaya Ul., Bldg. 1, 740-4858, noon-midnight, M. Pushkinskaya.