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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

In Tune with the Trends

MTA small room off Kontrabas' main hall is the spot for seclusion-seekers.
In the basement of the grand building that once housed the Rossia Insurance Society, Kontrabas is well hidden. There is only a small sign attached to the side of the building, and the basement door itself lacks any sign at all.

However, it seems that the public has had no trouble discovering this cozy cafe, as it can be hard to find a free table even on a Sunday afternoon.

Kontrabas has four rooms, the largest of which seats 80 people. The interior design is simple, with clean straight lines, uncomplicated furnishings and a minimum of decorations. The overall effect is fairly hip if you ignore the fact that there's karaoke in one of the smaller halls (thankfully, not audible in the other rooms).

The menu is extensive, featuring plenty of cafe classics as well as more substantial restaurant dishes. There are sandwiches, such as the Kontrabas with baked eggplant, vegetables and French cheese served with fries (230 rubles). There's a good selection of pasta -- tagliatelle with salmon (250 rubles), fettuccini with beef and mushrooms (220 rubles) and black spaghetti with calamari (290 rubles). The cafe also serves brochettes, including chicken (160 rubles), pork 190 rubles), tiger prawns (270 rubles) and salmon (250 rubles). An assortment costs 420 rubles.

More substantial yet simple offerings include a selection of dishes prepared on a cast-iron grill pan. Beef Stroganoff with fried potatoes and pickled Slippery Jack mushrooms goes for 270 rubles, while fillet of duck with fried potatoes and mushrooms served with pear and orange sells for 390 rubles.

Other mains include seafood dishes starting from 280 rubles for rainbow trout baked in foil. Fowl starts at 180 rubles for almond-battered chicken schnitzel, while meat dishes begin at 220 rubles for a reliable beef tongue with zucchini and tomato baked in cheese.

The beverage range is substantial. Beer starts at 80 rubles a half-liter of Staropramen or Sibirskaya Korona; unfiltered Sibirskaya Korona goes for 90 rubles. The wine list is good -- the red or white house wine costs a mere 75 rubles a glass.

6/1 Sretensky Bulvar, Bldg. 2, 621-6967, 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m., M. Turgenevskaya.