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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Caucasus Claims Corral

MTMerci, Baku's interior is elaborately thematic — almost Disneyesque.
Merci, Baku occupies a saloon-like building that until recently housed a Wild West restaurant and casino. The cowboy casino's riding off into the sunset can only be welcomed, especially when it heralds the arrival of an inexpensive ethnic eatery.

Merci, Baku describes itself as a Caucasus restaurant, and not exclusively an Azeri restaurant as its name might imply. The interior is extremely elaborate, almost theatrical -- even Disneyesque. The first floor is designed to recreate an Azeri courtyard, complete with grape vines, murals of country scenes and a mock chaikhana with the requisite samovar. The second-floor hall is more restrained in its design and would be the place to sit if you wanted to escape the live music on the first floor, which although loud, is at least not deafening. Dancing is welcome -- and if you come at the right time, you might catch the dance floor packed with diners in a real Caucasus shindig.

The menu is a pan-Caucasus collection of greatest hits, with an emphasis on Azeri cuisine. The piti soup costs 220 rubles, while the light and authentic dyushbara, tiny dumplings with broth, costs 160 rubles. Kutabi -- thin fried bread with cheese, meat, pumpkin or herbs -- cost 50 rubles. Georgian dishes are also well represented, such as satsivi (190 rubles), adzhapsandal (350 rubles), and, of course, khachapuri (150 rubles per half-kilogram pie). There are 24 varieties of shashlik (140 rubles to 980 rubles) and nine varieties of kebabs (180 rubles to 560 rubles). Vegetarians have two pages to choose from, including seven kinds of shashlik, and there is one whole page of sour-milk dishes.

The beer selection is decent, with Zolotaya Bochka (80 rubles per half liter), Krusovice (180 rubles per half liter) and dark Velkopopovicky Kozel (160 rubles per half liter) -- but don't miss the chance to try the Azeri wine, such as the tasty matrasa dry red for just 450 rubles per bottle.

59 Sushchyovsky Val, 602-6562, 689-8283, 24 hours, M. Rizhskaya,