the trough

MTIf you love seafood, don't waste another minute. Head to Cutty Sark this weekend and order up a sampling of oceanic delights like this one, the Cancun Cocktail -- fresh oysters and Norwegian lobster served with octopus salad and shrimp scampi.
Anyone who thinks Moscow's considerable distance from salt water guarantees a lack of good seafood at the city's restaurants should pay a visit to Cutty Sark.

I called 15 minutes before we arrived with a precautionary booking on Monday evening. Entering and being seated was so smooth and agreeable that I think my pleasure sensors mistook the glass of cold water I consumed for something stronger: I was in need of no alcohol on this night.

Menus came and all went well. The wait staff gave a helping hand where needed and was frequently at the table to offer another drink or replace an ashtray. With our drinks came a complementary basket of bread and some curiously flavored butter. We had to restrain ourselves after the third basket, for fear of not being able to enjoy our meals.

A Caesar salad with shrimp (248 rubles) and a Greek salad (124 rubles) came our way just around the time our pre-meal cigarettes were being stubbed out. The salads were extremely well presented and did not fail to satisfy the taste buds on contact.

For munching between courses, we ordered Tenerife tiger shrimp (450 rubles) which received a rare and solemn compliment: My Australian friend took a bite and savored the shrimp for a moment before declaring, "Now that's a shrimp." It doesn't get any better than that. If the inhabitants of that former penal colony know about anything, it's shrimp. The barbecue industry would collapse without the little creatures. Governments would fall.

Although many great seafood dishes were on offer, we chose to forego Neptune's spoils for the rest of the meal. When a native of a southern nation sees a New Zealand Rack of Lamb (650 rubles) in Moscow, he cannot resist. My Antipodean friend, another one who knows something good when he sees is, jumped at this opportunity.

In my time in Moscow, I've tried some other dishes that claim New Zealand heritage. The road to the satisfaction I experienced at Cutty Sark has been long, but I have finally found paradise. If those ribs were not from a New Zealand lamb, then I would like to know how much illicit cash is being spent on the restaurant's kiwi lamb impersonation program. If this lamb was not of New Zealand stock, there is a great danger to my nation's security if any espionage program involving sheep is being undertaken. We would be defenseless.

All in all, I have nothing but good to say about Cutty Sark. This is the best service I've seen in Moscow and I recommend the restaurant highly.

12 Novinsky Bulvar. Metro Krasnopresnenskaya. Tel. 202-1312. 11 a.m. to midnight. Credit cards: V, MC, DC, AE.