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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

GOURMET'S NOTEBOOK: Tamerlan




For a lame, bloodthirsty tyrant, Tamerlane has a damn fancy dining room. No nomadic camp for the three-week-old restaurant named after the Turkic marauder, but low-key lights, soft colors and a soothing atmosphere worthy of a trendy restaurant in the West


Perhaps it doesn't fit in with the food -- Mongolian stir-fry; you choose the ingredients and then watch the cooks, in traditional garb, cook it up on the Polo mint-shaped hot pan -- but as my friend said, "Where did you want it eat -- in a tent?"


As you'd expect, there's a lot of meat on the dictator diet, chicken, duck liver and heart, beef, lamb -- nine types in total, 20 different kinds of vegetables and a huge mix of dried herbs, sauces and dressings.


Either grab whatever you want ("Your own hands. Your taste. Your imagination," says the rather delirious menu), or you choose a recipe slip ("special manuscript") and follow the instructions.


For 210 rubles you get the Shanaga-Tamerlan (a "part of eternity") -- as many trips to the hot pan as you want, a wonderful marinated salad of aubergine, zucchini and sweet potatoes, hot freshly made bread and a curious if not too impressive soft cheese called "cheese-chura."


We tried the meticulous route with the Shagayto lamb (sliced lamb, mushrooms, cauliflower, zucchini, carrots, barbecue sauce, thyme, olive oil and crushed garlic) and the whatever-came-to-hand method. Both were superb. The chefs, who are actually Kazakh, are impressive when they get to work, slamming the ingredients down on the hot plate before they stir and toss with two giant, painted chopsticks. A couple of minutes later, a flick of the wrist sends the meal into the bowl, with barely a trace falling into the gutters placed around the hot pan to catch any escaped food.


It's all reminiscent of an ethnic greasy Joe's because after cooking, the chef immediately sets to work on scraping the assorted melted detritus off the hot metal with his stick.


If you want to take some leftovers home, bring your own Tupperware, since the restaurant won't be able to help.


For dessert, we only tried the coconut pancakes (36 rubles), which came with a sumptuous coconut-custardy sauce -- very sweet but well worth any future cavities. Another dish at a neighboring table that looked tempting was the strawberries served shashlik-like.


After a bottle of Cote du Rhone (160 rubles) and two pots of tea (34 rubles), the bill came to 680 rubles. Service was very friendly. They let us linger two hours past closing time without any hurrying, although our waiter did ask my friend if I was American because he knew they gave big tips.


Booking is advisable on weekends. Beer is 27 rubles for 330 milliliters, and there's an ample wine list (147 rubles to something ridiculous).


Business lunch (12 p.m. to 2 p.m.) is a less bracing experience on the wallet: 70 rubles for one trip to the men with the big sticks, Zeidan soup (mutton), the cheese stuff and tea or coffee.


Tamerlan, 30 Ulitsa Prechistenka, Tel. 202-5649, noon to 11 p.m. Metro: Park Kultury, Kropotkinskaya.