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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016


Visiting Cafe Pushkin is like taking a step back in time, perhaps into the world of Russian aristocrats of the late 19th century. The staff dress in period costume and a pre-revolutionary decor has been lovingly recreated on the restaurant's four levels. Understandably, Pushkin is always, always packed - in the nine months since it opened, the restaurant has greatly improved and has earned a reputation for serving exquisite fare.

The restaurant's main dining area, where there is an approximate 40 percent markup on all menu items, is in the second floor library. There, diners are allowed to browse the shelves, which are stocked with turn-of-the-century publications in many languages.

I started with a glass of fine red wine (210 rubles). The salad with asparagus (240 rubles) was delicious. We then tried the trout with cod liver (460 rubles) and found it exquisite. Next came pancakes with buckwheat and chicken liver (210 rubles) - another positively delectable offering. The Imperial Mushroom Soup (240 rubles) was a triumph. For a main course, I chose lamb (650 rubles), described in the menu as having been "brought back by Mr. Restaurateur from his travels in Georgia." It looked as if Mr. Restaurateur had grabbed a handful of grass, too - the dish appeared to consist of a bunch of fresh herbs wrapped in thin Georgian bread - but it complemented the lamb wrapped in bacon well.

We enjoyed the food at Pushkin immensely, but cannot say the same of the service, which we found lacking on every one of the restaurant's four floors. Three doormen at the entrance ignored us completely. Our waiter intruded on our privacy throughout the meal, serving meat from a shared dish to my companion (he was aware that she is a vegetarian) and ignoring our requests several times. He also vanished with a large piece of trout (which he presumably thought we had finished with) and never returned (a doggy bag for Mrs. Waiter perhaps?) and served my companion coffee instead of the hot chocolate she ordered. Finally, he committed the one sin no member of the wait staff at a fine dining establishment ought ever commit - he presumed that the change from the bill was meant as a tip and did not return with it.

26A Tverskoi Bulvar. Metro Pushkinskaya. Tel. 229-5590. Cellar dining room: 6 p.m. to midnight, closed Sundays and Mondays. Ground floor dining room: 24 hours. Second and third floor dining rooms: Noon to midnight. Credit cards: V, MC, DC, AE.

- Robin Munro