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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

GOURMET'S NOTEBOOK: Aktyor




Once a classy French restaurant that used to fly in gourmet food at gourmet prices, the Aktyor restaurant located in the Mosfilm complex now seems more in harmony with the impoverished industry that surrounds it.


Closed for repairs, Aktyor recently reopened with a new chef and a mainly Russian-based menu. And although the tapestry-decked interior on a chivalric theme still makes you wish you'd brought a tie, the prices have become very affordable. A four course meal can easily be had for under 400 rubles, and you're unlikely to need to eat again the same day.


And those are perhaps the best reasons to go there.


Few restaurants in Moscow really succeed in lifting Slavic cuisine up to the heights of French refinement, and when they do - like the Central House of Writers which serves up real Cossack boar - you generally have to pay for the privilege.


The Aktyor menu offers good but fairly standard fare that you wouldn't be surprised to see in kitchens around the country. The layered eggplant for 115 rubles ($4.56) came with enough garlic to cure an army and with parsley in the liberal quantities that seem to have become a feature of Russian national cuisine. The other starter we tried - prawn-stuffed tomatoes - was a visually awkward mix of red and pink but, tastewise, couldn't really be faulted if you like prawns and tomatoes.


Next up, a bottomless helping of borshch, with so much meat and vegetables included that there's really no need to order anything else. Unfortunately I had, and to make way for a salmon main course the waiter had to take half a liter of the purple soup back with him. The salmon - po-tsarsky in a creamy sauce with caviar for 354 rubles ($14) - came with the waiter's recommendation but was slightly cloying. The much cheaper rustic pelmeni for 109 rubles ($4.32) present an excellent alternative and prove once again that, if you're going to dine at Aktyor, eat as if you were at home and not on the stage - with half a liter of vodka and nothing too fancy.


Business lunch for 80 to 100 rubles ($3.17 to $3.97) is served from noon to 4 p.m. The French house red comes at 50 rubles a glass.


Aktyor is open daily from noon to midnight at 1 Mosfilmovskaya Ulitsa. Tel. 143-9400. Metro: Kievskaya then trolleybus 17 or 34. All credit cards accepted.


- Oliver Ready