It was an unseasonal chilly evening in Moscow but the weather did not deter the undaunted members of the Moscow Good Food Club as they made there way to Restaurant Oli Oli located on Povarskaya just off Sadova relatively close to the American Embassy.
It’s an area that is not inundated with restaurants and Oli Oli stands proud in a dominant Soviet Constructivism building reminiscent of earlier days in Moscow. On our way in we did notice the start of construction for their Summer patio, this is large, relatively quiet and as you will read later, offers excellent food.
As members gathered we were offered a most enjoyable Golden Balka, Baklava, Pinot Noir. This is the second time that we have imbibed in this excellent sparkling rose and we feel that Russian production is now taking its rightful place in many of Moscow’s restaurants. The aperitif was accompanied by Pincimonio, Profiteroles with Ricotta cheese and lavender honey and salmon with Philadelphia and olives.
Promptly at 20:00 we took our seats in this bright and roomy restaurant and were informed that our meal would represent the best of simple, traditional Sicilian cuisine concentrating on natural flavours. A Casarena 505 Malbec was poured to accompany the Salad of duck filet with raspberry spinach sauce. Amazingly succulent duck but the raspberry sauce had us confused as it tasted of strawberries! Later the Chef revealed that he had changed his mind and used strawberries. An excellent light and tasty salad superbly paired with the rather daring Malbec.
The next dish of Mini Squid with zucchini & mint was a little lacking in colour but the flavours and freshness of the squid matched the lightly friend zucchini. The Tuffo Cavi del Comunne di Gavi was excellent as is expected from this winery.
For main course we had been offered a choice. The Cod Filet with piazzajoila sauce was soft and flaky but the dish again lacked some colour. Flavour however was excellent and the Minini Chardonay was an excellent accompaniment. The portions of the Young Goat baked with potatoes were a meat eater’s dream with lean, succulent meat literally falling off the bone. The robust Vetisquero Clasici, Savignon Blanc was perfectly paired with meat and wine perfectly complementing each other.
Dessert was maybe the highlight of the evening, again optically not sensational, however the bright pink colour indicated flavours inside. Billed as Olympia, a gentle mouse of white chocolate with raspberry sauce and meringue, this dish astounded our members as the flavours literally burst in our mouths drawing great sighs of satisfaction and happy smiles. Surprisingly the Wirra Wirra, Mrs Wigley rosé was an elegant and ideal pairing.
Very well fed and with bright conversation abounding, the tables now prepared their Critiques.
At this point one should congratulate Oli Oli for the excellent and highly attentive service from the team of professional waiters. This was not ‘in your face’ service rather, eloquent and subtle, almost unnoticeable except that the dishes and wines kept changing! Top marks for the team and the management for achieving this standard.
As the table Spokespeople stood in turn to present their Critique, we were joined by Chef Evgeny Mesheryakov who listed patiently to our eloquent speaker as their aired the views and opinions of each table. A Critique is not a criticism and Evgeny appeared to appreciate many of the constructive comments made.
The ratings for Restaurant Oli Oli were:
Food Suitability 8.50
Quality/Suitability of the drinks 9.50
The service standards 9.25
The general rating of the meal 7.50
Congratulations to the Chef, Management and staff for their achievement on another excellent Moscow Good Food Club dinner.
A highlight of the evening was having one of the Restaurants famous patrons sitting near to us and Nikita Mikhalkov graciously allowed a picture with our host as they compared moustaches!
As customary a topical question was asked: “Spring is coming!. Believe it or not the weather will improve and Moscow will once again become a nicer place! What are your 5 most favourite aspects or details of the ‘real’ arrival if Spring in Moscow?”
Some usual comments were received that generally referred to the state of dress of the fairer sex in Moscow but some of the more sensible replies includes: The end of puddles and messy snow, Dry pavements, warmth and longer days, The smell of Spring(paint!), and ‘The change of being practical to keep warm to now being able to express oneself through brighter clothing’.
On this cheerful note, members of the Moscow Good Food Club bid fond farewells to the staff of Oli Oli and made their way out into the cold evening.