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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Find Quiet Corner to Celebrate Valentine's Day

Moscow has more than its share of noisy, expensive and generally obnoxious restaurants, where diners are exposed to loud music, rude service and strangers' leers.

Romantic haunts to nurture true love are scarcer, though Valentine's Day -- In case you've forgotten, it's Saturday -- can make the heart more determined. And several quiet places with tender live music, dim light, real flowers on the tables and a good selection of wines and desserts provide a welcome oasis for loving souls yearning to connect.

If the popular Delifrance cafe seems too bright and too crowded, but the charms of a French cafe in the center of Moscow sound appealing, the recently opened bar Soleil Express, the offspring of Brasserie du Soleil, may feel just right. The bar is lavishly decorated with bright wall paintings of the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses bringing the sun to Louis XIV, France's "Sun King." Soleil Express serves sandwiches, salads, wines and Danish and French pastries -- among them the pride of Soleil's bakery, the delicious French upside down apple pie, Tart Tatin. From 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Valentine's Day, free cognac will be served.

Another French-flavored place, the chic, spacious Le Gastronome, somewhat decadent with its beautiful, old-fashioned setting and romantic ambience, is probably your best bet when it comes to restaurants. It has recently introduced an afternoon tea from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. every day. For $8 per person, you can treat yourself to a salmon sandwich, a pastry and unlimited amounts of tea. Usually Le Gastronome has live piano music, but Saturday, a bandwill play French love songs and serenade diners.

The Japanese coffee shop Doutor is conveniently located on the Old Arbat -- not a bad spot for a lovers' stroll -- and has a colorful interior with a large bouquet of flowers on the oval central table. Through the glass wall you can watch passersby as your nurse you cup of Doutor's excellent coffee. Four kinds of coffee, along with four kinds of tea, are served in nice, thick white cups.

If you feel convinced that lavish spending will help secure the affection of the one you covet, the cafes at fancy hotels could be the right setting for a rendezvous. Cafe Confectionary at the Metropol is a small tearoom with high ceilings, ornate decorations and a great view onto Teatralnaya Ploshchad. The service is unobtrusive and accompanied by classical music. With your coffee or tea, there are heart-shaped cookies, or a $9 tiramisu or an $8 cheesecake.

Last year on Feb. 14, Seasons at the hotel Tverskaya found itself to be a mecca for couples. Located on the second floor overlooking the hotel lobby, under an atrium and with tables hidden in small niches on balconies, Seasons offers both intimacy and the feeling of space. Recently reopened as an Italian restaurant, it features a classic Italian menu and an impeccable cappuccino.

The small, cozy bakery at the Olympic Penta hotel features a view of the Alps -- seen through the painted window on the wall -- and large baskets full of Turkish delight, cookies and sweets. Waitresses in flowery dresses serve the $5.50 cappuccino or espresso and the $1.75 croissants, and tell you all about the array of $6 pastries.

CDL Restaurant at the Central House of Writers, which is popular for its tables for two on the balcony, offers a special Valentine's Day menu: a marinated duck breast called "D'amour," a soup called "Desire," "Casanova" grilled scallops in champagne sauce, and heart-shaped raspberry cookies named "Sweetheart" for dessert. Women get truffles and roses.

If you are nearly broke, don't cancel your date.

Venskaya Konditerskaya offers a nice selection of inexpensive cakes, exquisitely decorated with rich, buttery frosting and berries, and good young French wine from the barrel for 15 rubles ($2.50) a glass. Konditerskaya has plain cream-colored walls and comfy lounge seats by the windows. The accommodating personnel wouldn't object if you closed the heavy burgundy curtains and hid behind them for a while.

Konditerskaya is located just off the Patriach Ponds, a romantic spot for a cozy walk in the cold before, after or instead of a meal.

Another low-budget option is a small cafe in the left wing of the Moscow Conservatory. There, the cheapest item on the menu -- two sausages with ketchup -- is a real bargain at 4 rubles. In the relaxed atmosphere of a student hangout with classical music greats staring from photographs on the walls and live piano music in the evening you can have a great time.

Soleil Express. 24/27 Sadovaya-Samotyochnaya Ulitsa. Tel. 725-6476.

Le Gastronome. 1 Kudrinskaya Ploshchad. Tel. 255-4433.

Doutor. 19 Stary Arbat. No phone.

Cafe Confectionary at the Metropol hotel. 1/4 Teatralny Proyezd. Tel. 927-6000, 6066.

Seasons at the Tverskaya. 34 1st Tverskaya-Yamskaya Ulitsa. Tel. 258-3000, ext. 6236.

Bakery at the Olympic Penta hotel. 18/1 Olimpiisky Prospekt. Tel. 931-9000.

CDL Restaurant. 53 Bolshaya Nikitskaya Ulitsa. Tel. 291-1515, 290-1589.

Venskaya Konditerskaya. 21/23 Malaya Bronnaya Ulitsa.

Cafe at the Moscow Conservatory. 13 Bolshaya Nikitskaya. Tel. 229-3833, 0710.