“It was nothing like we thought it was going to be,” Chef Christopher Gross of Christopher’s and Crush Lounge says of his visit to the Russian capital with girlfriend Jamie Hormel. The city felt more cosmopolitan than Eastern Bloc, he found. “You have these pre-conclusions of the Soviet Union or whatever and it was very New York-ish. It’s a beautiful walking city.” We asked our culinary comrade to share some trip highlights.
Industry vet Gross was blown away by this rooftop restaurant, which was featured in season three of the Netflix series Chef’s Table. “The dining room is all glass-enclosed, like a gigantic greenhouse. Anywhere you look you see a beautiful view,” Gross says. “It’s kind of a sexy, modern restaurant, a play on Alice in Wonderland.” Chef Vladimir Mukhin favors old-school Russian ingredients in his cooking. “You’ll get to experience things like swan liver, possibly [and] moose milk flan,” Gross says. “It all stems from when the West imposed embargos and a lot of the chefs…started to have to look for local ingredients.” whiterabbitmoscow.ru
“They’ve gotta have the nicest metro in the world,” Gross says of the pristine subway system. “There [are] crystal chandeliers hanging in them, beautiful marble. You could live in there. If you’re a bum living in their subway, you could be quite happy.” Interpreting the Cyrillic signs was more challenging. “You just need to do some planning of where you’re going and get the landmarks and stuff if you have to come up.” mosmetro.ru
Sanduny Bath House
Not that kind of bath house. Or is it? “I guess back in the day you went to a bath house [because] you might not have had one in your small flat... You can get communal or private, and you can get beaten with branches or sticks and stuff,” Gross says. “We had a private one. I don’t think it’s always used just for massage [laughs].” But, he insists, “it wasn’t seedy. It looked like you were going into a hospital… You have a place where you can have dinner or lunch, a wine menu, and then someone will come in and give you a massage one at a time. It has to be male-male and female-female, which was unusual.” eng.sanduny.ru
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