Dinner as Theater

The Most, Moscow’s coolest restaurant, which is discreetly located on a street called Kuznetsky Most (the sign on the door is oh so subtle, of course), has a French menu with a good wine list. What is especially striking, however, is the space itself. Owned by Alexander Mamut, one of Russia’s biggest financiers, it is like a stage set, as is so much else in the city—a room intended to look as though it was done in another time, in this case the early 1700s, specifically the Baroque style of Louis XIV, with intricate moldings, painted gold, and large elaborate murals.

The Russian capital, it seems, has fallen in love with the idea of itself in the past tense, when there were plenty of cafés and clubs where people debated politics and poetry and the arts. (Think Tom Stoppard’s recent play The Coast of Utopia.) There is wit in the waiters’ uniforms: tight-fitting suits made from striped or patterned fabric—part clown, part Italian chic—and designed by Alena Akhmadullina, one of the country’s most innovative fashion designers. At night the bar is inhabited by rich bohemians and oligarchic philosophers (if there is such a thing); in other words, those who can afford it. As one regular says, "The middle class can’t come unless at their client’s expense." Dinner, from $140. At 6/3 Kuznetsky Most; 7-495/660-0708; themost.ru.