In Moscow we had two notable dining experiences that I feel are worthy of being shared. When a restaurant gets all kinds of publicity and press, I have found its best not to read it all before going. It sets expectations way too high and creates a bias over my own experience. In the case of White Rabbit Moscow it was nearly impossible to abide by this rule of thumb. Just looking for the address I encountered a plethora of articles stating it was considered among the world's 15 best restaurants and how spectacular it was. I'm trying to preface my review on my experience by saying that perhaps my expectations were set way too high. After all, living in a nearby suburban town outside of New York City, I admit I may be a bit spoiled when it comes to standards in fine dining service, presentation and value to quality satisfaction.
With that said, it is my understanding that to be able to eat at White Rabbit you must have a reservation.
To be able to make said reservation you have to leave a monetary deposit through their website. Although not very user friendly, we were able to successfully reserve a table and upon arrival were taken to the rooftop dining area. The view of Moscow is breathtaking and the rooftop is very chic and gorgeous. However, the service was mediocre at best. We sat without drinks or water for at least ten minutes, it wasn't until my husband flagged somebody down that we received our initial attention from a server (its relevant also that we were one of only 4 tables occupied on the entire rooftop terrace). After deciding to go with the tasting menu, which promised a large variety of innovative dishes featuring Russian specialties and ingredients, and ordering a bottle of wine, we settled in for what turned out to be a disappointing and drawn out dining experience. The time between courses was irregular, the dishes sometimes less than a bite of food and underwhelming for certain. Considering the price of the tasting menu, compared to the overall quality of the food and experience, my personal recommendation is air on the side of caution with this big name in Moscow.
On the other hand, our good friends in Kazan recommended a chic new restaurant near the National Theatre named Sempre. After a little difficulty finding it in the Tverskaya area, we were pleasantly surprised by a space, decor and ambiance that was nothing short of a magical rainforest. Every detail from the unique ceramic plates, hammered silverware, long wood plank tables and benches, hanging natural lamp shades and even the perfect English (very very rare In Russia) of our friendly server, made for a truly special experience. The food was delicious, creative and completely satisfying. I recommend visiting them wholeheartedly.
In Kazan, thanks to the amazing guidance of our friend @sabina_esthetician, we patronized two wonderful restaurants that I definitely recommend going to in Kazan. The first was a Georgian Cuisine restaurant, with a huge menu offering options to both meat and veggie lovers (the latter would be me). Khinkalnaya Cafe had a great dining environment, attentive servers, and delicious Georgian specialties. The second restaurant in Kazan that I would definitely return to is Chaihona No. 1. A spot with a lovely view and trendy environment, this restaurant seems like a fabulous place to visit in the evening for cocktails or dinner (although we went for a late lunch). The food was good and the service was quick, although the language barrier is ever present (thank Goodness for Sabina!) We shared fruit flavored vodka shots which were the highlight of the meal for me, as well as a traditional Kazan dessert. Lots to choose from on their menu and amazing decor to photograph and enjoy!