For this issue's restaurant review, I decided to do something a little different. I'm reviewing the competition's restaurant reviews, not simply because we're all too fucking lazy and poor to eat anywhere new, but also because it might reveal something about how emerging middle-class Muscovites view their own booming consumer market.
So I'm reviewing the reviews posted Afisha.ru's latest restaurant section. I must warn you: what you are about to read is not pretty. In fact it's so nauseatingly bourgeois and cheesy that it will make you pine for element's low-rent, illiterate degradation of the self-congratulatory bourgeoisie genre.
The first review in the current issue is of a restaurant called "Just Like In The Canary Islands." What, to a Muscovite, is "just like the Canary Islands"? A makeshift tent on the banks of the dead, polluted Moscow River, decked out with lame, cheesy fruit-juice colored furniture, serving "tuna steak" for 420 rubles. The reviewer, Svetlana Kesoyan, loves her tuna steak. It also has two "swimming pools," but all we're told is that they're the kinds of pools that bourgeois Muscovites would enjoy dipping their calves into for photo opportunities. Correct me if I'm wrong, but something tells me that a real waterside cafe in the real Canary Islands would mean a stunning view of the ocean and fresh catch of the day, not a tent at the edge of a toxic oil spill serving defrosted tuna-flavored haddock.
Next review is of Opium, located in the heart of the Rublevko zone in Barvikha. Me likes the name, and the choice of cuisine Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese makes me so hoh-nee... until I remember that the reason they crudely lumped these vastly different cuisines under one elitny roof. Because the elitny Barvikha customers can't tell the difference between one slanty-eyed monkey from another, no matter how many times they vacation in the Far East.
If Opium's crude lumping of different cuisines says something ugly about its elitny customers' gastronomic ignorance, then the Afisha review goes even lower: groveling or disliking everything wrong. The first sentence begins fawningly, "The restaurant Opium is located right behind a Bentley salon, across from Gucci." And it ends, "The interior is flawless. But for gastronomic pleasure it's worthless." And yet the reviewer didn't even bother trying one spicy dish. Instead, she tried tuna rolls, which she found unexciting, and the kinds of things idiotic first-time tourists would try, like turtle soup, which she also found unexciting.
Next review is Eko Cafe on the elitny Ulitsa Ostozhenka, the so-called "Golden Mile." Are you sensing a pattern yet? What excites the reviewer isn't just the elitny address, but the fact that it's connected to an elitny organic market which sells "ekologichesky chisty produkty." And then, well, you'll never guess what she orders: yup, tuna steak. And she loves it! In fact, she says she's planning to eat there twice a week.
There you have it, a fortnight in the life of Moscow's top restaurant critic and all-around gourmand, Svetlana Kesoyan, which comes down to visiting a handful of gauchely-decorated restaurants in Moscow's priciest districts, trying out their tuna (all of which comes from the same frozen-food distributor anyway), and then serving it up to her readers, whose only dream is to one day eat defrosted tuna in an overpriced restaurant, in the shadow of Moscow's oligarchy. Just like Svetlana does.