by Kim Waddoup
Great Expectations! Many restaurants are able to create quite a reputation and mostly because of this one wants to try them out. Therefore, one’s expectations are generally higher than they should be, and it is then a challenge for the restaurant to come up with the goods, provide food and service that is worthy of that reputation. Often in reality the expectations are higher than the actual experience.
When we heard that the Moscow Good Food Club had been invited to the Bar BQ Café we were intrigued. Yes we had heard that their steaks, burgers and ribs were good but was this not a bar where younger people are encouraged to drink from oversized glasses through straws?
Long term expat and owner of the Bar BQ Café Chain, Henrik Winter worked with his team to prepare what looked like an amazing menu with many very interesting wine pairings, but would they really be able to come up with the goods? With these thoughts, Moscow Good Food Members descended on the Bar BQ Café on Trubnaya Pl. The place is modern, bright and the interior decorations very comfortable. We were shown to our curtained-off area for our MGFC Dinner. Lovely waitresses with beaming smiles were quick to serve us with a very pleasant Nino Franco Brut, Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superior accompanied by the Chef’s selection of creative and delicious canapés.
Soon we were asked to take our tables and our feast could begin. With each course our hosts Sacha Murachev, the chief Culinary Director explained each course and Georgy Maximov the wines and why they have been selected for us. The meal started with a delicious Spicy Pumpkin Soup that packed so many additional flavours including pumpkin seeds and watercress. This was paired with a very soft and gentle Tenuta Sant’Antonio, ‘Fontana’ Soave.
The next dish of Salmon Tartar with ginger-citrus ponzu was soft and delicate but could maybe had done with a splash more lime to complete the effect. This was paired with a Jerman Pino Bano, Frui-Venezia Giulia IGT which was crisp and flavoursome and perfectly complemented the ponzu dressing.
Could this quality and flavour continue? Yes it could and it did with superbly prepared roast beef served with an onion chutney and back radish admirably paired with a Gaja ‘Promis’ Ca Marcanda, Toscana IGT.
Then came ‘la piece de resistance’ delicious King Crab prepared in warm butter with black salt and stewed white onion. Rumour had it that this is the signature dish in one of Copenhagen’s most famous restaurants and now admirably prepared for us also in Moscow! The robust Muga, Blanco, Fermentado en Barrica, Rioja proved that Rioja does not always have to be red and it’s white variety with bursting flavours was excellent for this comprehensive dish.
This was followed by Brisket served with fresh coleslaw, mustard sauce, leek and pickles. Once again the chef had prepared the Brisket to perfection and the coleslaw was fresh, crispy and full of flavour rather than the dull, mayonnaise soaked varieties that we are generally used to receiving. The Catena Zapata, ‘Catena’ Malbec, Mendoza proved to be an excellent choice, not as heavy and overpowering as many Malbecs but soft and mellow whilst remaining fully flavoured.
By now many of our members were showing the strains of packing away 5 courses and 6 different wines, but as well prepared connoisseurs, they had saved space for the dessert of Raspberry Lavender Mouse with fresh berries, a delightfully light concoction that freshened the palate. The Beringer, Moscato California Collection proved to be a worthy dessert wine, not over sweet but perfectly balanced by the berries and raspberry flavours.
As tea and coffee was served, each table was busy conferring with their spokespeople to prepare their critiques. All were unanimous in their praise of Bar BQ Café and the endeavours of Henrik Winter’s highly talented team headed by Chef Sergey Liminko. All mentioned that they were intrigued with the idea of attending a Moscow Good Food Club in a restaurant generally not so associated with haute cuisine but based on our reputation for Good Food, Good Wine and of course Great Company, non were disappointed, in fact quite the opposite all were delighted with the amazing high quality, the flavours, the attention to detail and the exceedingly well paired wines. Each spokesperson also praised the waitresses who were efficient, so friendly and never without a smile.
This ranks Bar BQ Café on a level similar to many of the great restaurants that we have attended over the years! Hearty congratulations to Henrik Winter and his incredible team. It goes to prove that the adage that ‘you can’t judge a book by it’s cover’ is also appropriate to a restaurant called Bar BQ Café!
The question of the evening was “Christmas is coming and it is time for a wish. To make our lives in Moscow more enjoyable what would your wish be and what are your reasons?” Naturally after several glasses of Prosecco and 6 different wines, some of the replies are best forgotten! Others included:- Magical Walks along the Boulevard, Come back EasyJet, lots of deep snow and of course many Christmas Presents.
After a really super evening it was time to bid farewell to Bar BQ Café and head out into the clear Winter’s evening in Moscow!