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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Falafel Goes Fine Dining

MTDamas indulges in one excess: an oversized, glittering chandelier.
With a few exceptions, Moscow's Middle Eastern restaurants tend to be a kitschy affair. More often than not, they are little better than glorified kebab joints. The usual formula involves an Ali Baba-themed interior, with all the trinkets that come with it, including the obligatory weaved rugs and hookahs. The entertainment program inevitably includes belly-dancing performances accompanied by ear-splitting music that completely precludes conversation.

The recently opened Damas provides a welcome breath of fresh Middle Eastern air. It would appear that Ali Baba does not frequent Damas. The walls are free of woven rugs -- the main room's white interior is relatively minimalist, featuring a subtle geometric relief pattern on its ceiling. The most elaborate design feature is a huge crystal chandelier that seems too large for the size of the room and the height of the ceiling.

Although the menu features lots of non-Middle Eastern dishes, including some Italian (400 to 600 rubles), other European (450 to 1,000 rubles), a grill menu (150 to 750 rubles) and the usual sushi, there is still a full selection of tasty Syrian and Lebanese offerings. The tabouli, baba ganoush and hummus (all 250 rubles per serving) are excellent, light renditions of these classic staples. The falafel (250 rubles) cleverly comes with each ball together with a pickle wrapped in its own individual triangle of pita bread. The tasty lamb Istambul kebab (550 rubles) is also noteworthy. Cheese or meat sambouska pies go for 150 rubles. The beer selection is limited to a couple of bottled beers including Erdinger at 200 rubles.

Overall, Damas is an elegant establishment that provides a refined atmosphere not usually associated with Middle Eastern cuisine in Moscow (a notable exception being the restaurant Shafran). Nonetheless, the prices at Damas seem unnecessarily inflated. Financial relief, however, is available in the form of a generous discount of 30 percent from noon to 6 p.m., available not only on weekdays but weekends as well.

8 Ul. Maroseika, 628-8080, noon-midnight, M. Kitai-Gorod.