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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

gourment't notes

For those of you who have been in doubt, let me put your minds at ease. Yes, it is possible to get fresh, deliciously prepared seafood in Moscow, a city about as landlocked as they come. It'll cost, of course, but what did you expect?

Tri Peskarya, the restaurant in a back room above the Up and Down Club, offers one of the most exquisitely subtle culinary experiences available in Moscow today. The French chef, whose eight years experience in Russia is reflected in a vodka-sorbet palate cleanser and in other Russian touches, prepared our meal to perfection. Not even the side garnishes were slighted. As garnishes should, but often don't, they provided a wonderful little surprise complement to each course.

Take, for example, the homemade rabbit pate appetizer ($25). The meaty, rich flavor of the finely textured pate interspersed with hazelnuts is counterpointed deliciously by a smokey prune-apple chutney nestled into a leaf of lettuce. This is one of the best things I have ever eaten. Other first-course options include fresh oysters ($54) and pan-fried snails, described by the menu as accompanied by mushrooms in a creamy porto sauce on top of a puff pastry ($35).

But the specialty of the restaurant is seafood, of course. They even offer you the chance to yourself catch the fish or shellfish from one of the large aquariums in the back room and have it prepared in any manner you choose. Fish to order costs $19 per 100 grams, shellfish $9 per 100 grams. My dining companion and I decided that catching our own fish was more work than we wanted to do, so we chose two other options from the selection of main courses.

She had the house specialty -- "Tri Peskarya" baked filet of sole ($49), which turned out to be thin filets wrapped around a mushroom filling and then baked. The dish was beautifully presented, with the fish arranged in a circle on the plate alternating with small puff pastries. My choice was the pan-fried salmon steak ($47). To my way of thinking there are few things in this world better than well-prepared fresh salmon and this meal lived up to all expectations. The fish, so delicate it just fell apart under the slightest pressure from my fork, was accompanied by asparagus spears, all of which rested in a creamy parsley sauce. If there was one slight disappointment during the meal, it was that the asparagus was not quite as tender as one might have liked.

It should be noted that Tri Peskarya has a section of its menu devoted to vegetarian dishes and, in general, offers the light eater options for dining. They even provide low-fat butter as one of the several choices of bread spreads. Dessert was no letdown, as good as the first two courses were. I had the "Negritta," a frozen rum mousse with a blueberry sorbet heart. This, however, was topped by my companion's choice of "Cleopatra's Caprice," an iced Grand Marnier mousse with slices of flambe oranges prepared in an intricate process right at the table.

Tri Peskarya, 4 Zubovsky Bulvar, Daily from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m., tel. 201-8738/8739, Metro: Park Kultury.

-- J