City Grill Better Than Ever After Makeover

MTClosed for nearly a year for wholesale renovations, City Grill has changed more than its appearance: The restaurant's formerly American menu is now an international one.
If you've had occasion to walk past the entrance to the Mayakovskaya metro station at any time since last August, then surely you noticed the sanding, painting and hammering going on at the (formerly American) eatery City Grill -- a painful reminder that the popular restaurant, which opened early in 1999, had been closed for nearly a year for extensive renovations.

Painful, especially, for me, since the restaurant's address puts it on the path I take every night from the metro to my apartment on the Garden Ring. Before the restaurant closed, I'd spent many evenings there, seated at its cozy bar, tossing unifying theories about life and the universe in the direction of the good-natured bartender. But time passed and seasons changed and, happily, in July, City Grill opened its doors again -- this time with a new look and a new menu, different in fact in every way but its name.

Oddly enough, although I'd often enjoyed a quiet ale at the grill's bar, I'd never rolled up my sleeves there for a proper meal -- until last weekend, when a friend and I set off for City Grill for a late lunch.

After being seated and taking our time perusing the now international menu in the restaurant's very comfortable new surroundings, we took advantage of our waitress's suggestion that we order a beverage. And we were right to do so: Not only did the two 300 milliliter Paulaners ($3, or about 95 rubles each) really hit the spot on a warm, sunny day, but they were served in ice-chilled glasses -- always a nice touch.

To start, we chose the City Caesar Salad ($8) and the seafood salad ($11), which were tasty, if a bit ordinary. But, no sooner had we polished off the starters and leaned back in our chairs for a breath did our mains arrive.

The delicious chicken stir-fry ($11.50) didn't last long when pitted against yours truly, especially since I happened to be armed with a pair of chopsticks. My friend, on the other hand, had a harder time with his Pad Thai stir-fry ($13). Although he said the dish was tasty, his total lack of manual dexterity, while entertaining, meant that he had more than a little trouble getting the food past his lips -- further evidence that Asian tableware is less than commonplace in his native northern England.

After another ale each, it was time for dessert. We chose to share a portion of the cheesecake with passion fruit and mango sauce ($6.50), and didn't regret it, although we did wish we'd ordered six or seven more slices. The cake was good enough that its presence put a stop to all mealtime conversation -- until, that is, I had to speak to scold my friend, who was preparing to lick the final drops of scrumptious mango sauce from his plate.

In addition to offering excellent service -- our waitress was a true professional, ever clearing away used napkins or suggesting another drink -- City Grill offers a pleasing, homey environment of large-screen televisions, exposed brick and comfy chairs. The background music is well-chosen, too -- quiet enough not to hinder conversation, but with enough energy that you just might find yourself chewing to the rhythm.

So, after a final cappuccino ($4), we parted company with City Grill -- with me looking forward to stopping by in the future, on the walk from the metro toward home.

2/30 Sadovaya-Triumfalnaya Ulitsa, Bldg. 1. Metro Mayakovskaya. Tel. 299-0953.