The Understated and the Overblown

For MTCrystal chandeliers overhang the rococo-style main dinning hall at The Most.
As you step from the street into the hallway curtained with heavy, red velvet, a vague light ahead is the only indication of the overpowering decor that awaits. Gold leaf and trompe l'oeil murals set the mood at The Most, a restaurant opened in April by businessman Alexander Mamut. Massive crystal chandeliers overhang the rococo-style main dining hall, where 18th- and 19th-century paintings, lent by an antique gallery, rest frameless against faux-antique walls. The smiling service staff match the decor in their custom-designed suits by designer Alyona Akhmadulina.

Alexander Antonov / For MT
The darker, mahogany wood bar offers a closer, more exclusive atmosphere.
But French chef Eric Le Provos shrugs off questions about such trappings, preferring to speak about his inspiration: the food. Far from fusion and molecular cuisine, his philosophy is simplicity, savoring the taste of the ingredients he has selected.

"The pleasure of cooking well, is the pleasure of having people want to speak to you about it afterward," Le Provos said. "Not someone saying, 'that was great but what was that piece of meat?'"

Throughout his career in Moscow at such renowned restaurants as Carre Blanc and Le Duc, Le Provos has been faithful to classic French cuisine. But classic does not mean sedentary, and this fall he offers a revamped seasonal menu.

Alexander Antonov / For MT
Le Provos aims to play up northern French products against the more summery southern flavors: pan-fried scallops with creamy puree of cauliflower, spinach and alga sauce; king prawns in soft spices on risotto; cod filet with oyster sauce; and monkfish in curry with vegetable tagliatelle and bisque sauce. But king on the seafood carte is the lobster, presented alive to the client and then either grilled a la plancha or prepared "The Most way," which involves a 20-minute wait while the flesh is eviscerated, fired in the oven and presented back in its shell. Also new is beef tournedos with cepes, green beans and perigourdine sauce.

The breakfast menu, daily from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., is one of the most popular quality-price draws, and the menu is set to grow. Derivations of gnocchi with cream sauce and Emmental, ham or crabmeat, new French-style sandwiches and a variety of stuffed and rolled hot pancakes are sure to be a hit.

Over your coffee, you may look up in any direction to find a pudgy cherub to wish you well on your way out to the street.

6/3 Ul. Kuznetsky Most, 660-0706, weekdays 8 a.m.-last guest (kitchen until 11 p.m.) weekends 11 a.m.-last guest, M. Teatralnaya.