Monday, July 1, 2013

Lunch at Strudel cafe (Moscow)

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That was my first visit to Strudel cafe and quite a happy one. Besides a wide selection of strudels it does offer a full body European menu. I did get quite suspicious at first when I saw Caesar salad and pasta carbonara on their menu as both are trite for Moscow. However as I read further I saw some very tempting options like crispy poached egg with prosciutto and truffle sauce as well as goat cheese creme brule. In reality these two as well as lemon strudel surprised me very pleasantly. I would come back to have them again. As it often happens in Moscow cafes though, not all the dishes on a the menu are created equal, so I'll give more details below so that you can make a safer choice.

Moscow is now melting in the summer heat and my apartment is surviving a vast redecoration. That day before the Italy day festival on June 29, where I was meant to give cooking classes throughout the day, I really needed a high quality break and that was where my friend's suggestion to try Strudel cafe just hit the spot. We met about lunchtime and ended up relaxing there till half past five. I happily felt recharged and full of energy again.


I was 15 minutes late, but my friend ended up being late for an hour. So my first 45 minutes I spent observing and chilling down with this enormous non-alcoholic mojito. The glass looked like half a liter, which is much larger then you normally get in Moscow. And it felt completely relevant in this heat when anyone is thirsty all the time and half of it is ice anyways... it was very flavorful too.


The cafe was virtually empty on Friday at lunch time. Perhaps it means something about their marketing, but I certainly was the beneficiary here. Very quiet with lovely atmospheric music on. I would prefer to have air conditioner on at this weather, but it wasn't. However the large outside window was open and the wind coming in still made it quite comfortable. The service was hospitable and attentive throughout.

When my friend arrived we decided to take several starters instead of ordering mains, which felt just too heavy for the hot summer. The first one - crispy poached egg with prosciutto and parsnip black truffle sauce (450 rur) - made the meal for me. The egg is coated in crispy breadcrumbs and as you cut through you discover it perfectly cooked inside - soft set white and runny yolk. You end up mixing paper thin prosciutto slices with this delicious yolk and peppery fresh rocket topped with drops of thick balsamic sauce.

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Then came goat cheese creme brule with rocket, honey and five nut sauce (540 rur). This was something to remember for me too. The goat cheese tasted quite fresh and savory. It was creamy and melting since it's been heat through and the top crust was real bitter sweet crunchy caramel. Small nuggets of sweet nougat and fresh rocket complemented the cheese very well.


We ordered rocket with prawns (540 rur) too, just to have a taste. These weren't at all special, though cooked decently except parmesan, which wasn't real parmesan.


Spinach soup (350 rur) was nicely served but tasted bland to me.


I also really wanted to taste their strudel. The selection includes all-time apple, cherry, cottage cheese and some original options like lemon, gooseberry and poppy seed as well as some savory like salmon. My friend suggested gooseberry but it turned out the cafe run out of it, so we went for the lemon strudel.

It was filled with intense lemony fruits including apples, apricots and oranges and was warm with crisp crust. The menu said strudels at Strudel cafe are baked ahead and then baked again to order (to warm through and crisp up). I did like the result, especially in combination with extra vanilla ice-cream and some sweet raspberry sauce. The pastry felt quite different from what I got used to in Austria, but that didn't matter given how good it was.


The second dessert we got was Esterházy cake (320 rur) and as good as it looked on the outside as disappointing it tasted. The pastry layers, which are meant to be crisp nutty meringue, were just bland sponge. The cream and icing weren't bad, but didn't compensate for the dryness and flavorlessness of the pastry.


However then came very decent espresso. We moved out to the terrace as early evening was starting and fresh chilling wind felt heavenly. I'm glad I came and I do think I'll come again.

Related:

Moscow restaurants guide
Moscow cafes and bakeries guide

Salade aux chèvre chaud (French salad with hot goat's cheese)
Baked camembert with thyme and lingonberry jam
Buckwheat galette with an egg
Babbo's eggs (poached in tomato sauce)
Schnecken (German sticky cinnamon buns)
Austrian ginger bread