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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Exotic Fare in Garden Ring Fairyland

In the Kukly Club's Peter Pan-style menu, there's a caption that reads: "It frequently occurs that fairy gifts are merely the product of an illusion and soon revert to their original form."

Hopefully the illusion cast by this club/restaurant, specializing in exotic grilled food and inspired by fairies and elves and things Scottish, will last a little longer. Located on the premises of the Moscow Puppet Theater on the forever busy and polluted Garden Ring, Kukly succeeds in bringing something of a countryside oasis to the middle of town.

While the indoor restaurant, decorated with posters of old puppet shows and collections of porcelain dolls, is cute if unexceptional, the new courtyard area out the back that opened last month seems magically removed from the chaos of the city center. The red-brick wall is disguised by greenery planted on various levels, while a pond occupies center stage. Were it not for the high-rises on all sides, the illusion of the serenity of the countryside would be complete.

"When we decided to launch the restaurant project," says Andrei Sokur, general manger of Kukly Club, "we had to go through the original plans of Sergei Vladimirovich Obraztsov, the founder of the Puppet Theater."

Obraztsov began construction of the theater before World War II. Sokur says he had envisaged "something like a miniature Disneyland, which would resemble Venice with small canals and possibly small boats. When we rented this place, we decided to follow the same lines, only with less water and more greenery."

Food is prepared outside over a grill with a 16-meter chimney. The menu lists 17 varieties of savory grilled dishes, some aspiring to a Scottish or Celtic derivation. Among them: Scottish salmon (182 rubles excluding the char-grilled vegetables), chicken wings (182 rubles) and "Wise Duck" breast (234 rubles). For the more adventurous palates, there's grilled lobster, frogs' legs, ostrich and alligator steak served with wild brown rice on a bed of grilled pineapples and bananas and garnished with mint leaves (prices around 750 rubles per dish). Any dish can be served with any or all of the restaurant's six home made dressings, like Spicy Adjika and Narsharab pomegranate sauce.

"Grilled food is a culture," says head chef Gennady Serenkov, who studied French cuisine in France and previously worked at the Maxim's restaurant in Moscow. "Charcoal keeps the flavor of the food, which is cooked in direct heat 'en plein air' and contains no additional fat. And we can always add a touch of the exotic with our special menu."

You don't necessarily have to dine at Kukly. At the pond-side bar, Marat, the long-haired barman dressed in a Scottish kilt, will fix you a Witch's Tears cocktail or bring you one of 16 varieties of freshly squeezed juice (104 rubles to 598 rubles) - to be enjoyed perhaps at sunset as the courtyard's slightly orange electric lights accentuate the fading rays of the sun.

"The club is still quite new, but we have big plans for the future," says Yelena Yakubova, director of development and sales. "Our major project is to hold a Garden Ring Children's Festival in collaboration with the Puppet Theater. We also plan to put up a heated tent so that the area will remain functional during the winter."

"The waiters' uniforms will have to be readjusted though," comments Sokur.

Cover: free, with "friendly face control." Kukly, 3 Sadovaya-Samotyochnaya Ulitsa. Tel. 299-1656. Metro: Tsvetnoi Bulvar. Credit Cards: None.