Friday, 10 October 2014

Taking tea on Paveletsky Square, Moscow

I think it says 'coffee', not sure...
I am sitting in what must be Moscow's answer to Starbucks. There's plenty of these places around town. In fact, there's more of these than there are Starbucks, which is understandable, and I've only seen one outlet of the American coffee brand since I've been here and that was adjacent to the Paveletsky Square railway station. Here passengers can pick up the Aero Express to Domededovo airport. In fact, as I write this, I'm literally around the corner from the very same railway station so there's no more than 50 yards between Moscow's answer to Starbucks and Starbucks itself.

It's a bright place with wood-effect floors and cream-coloured tables. The clientele consists of mainly young people, some with laptops. There's roughly an equivalent number of men to women and it's clear that this place (and the chain's other outlets, which are scattered liberally around Moscow) is popular with Muscovites.

The menu is pretty extensive, offering a range of excellent cakes (all the well-known favourites including carrot cake, a range of delicious-looking cheesecakes and tiramisu desserts). I'll admit I was tempted by the tiramisu, but instead I opted for a more sober lemon cake and, of course, a pot of black tea served, I hasten to add, with milk (rare outside the UK). This is good news as avid readers of this blog will know how difficult it is to get a decent cup of tea outside of the UK. In fact, it's worth emphasising that the milk, served in a jug, was warm and the tea was served in a pot (enough for two and a half cups).

Lemon cake and a pot of tea...excellent stuff!
The lemon cake was pleasant enough – nice and moist with a thin layer of icing on top – and that, in my book, was perfect.

In addition to the cake there was a wide range of snacks and hot meals.

There's a flat screen television over the door (the sound turned down) and music playing in the background. In other words, there's a good hubbub going on and when blended with the general chit-chat of the customers, a decent vibe is created. Oh, I wish I'd brought my book along with me (Robert Tressell's The Ragged Trousered Philantropists) but I didn't, which is just as well as this excellent caff might not have made it to the blog if I'd been otherwise occupied.

Last but not least, the service was good, which is very important. Although perhaps it would be fair to say it was good up until the point when I asked for the bill. The waiter ambled over after I'd attracted his attention (not the same person who initially took my order). I asked him for the bill. He consulted another man and that was it – nothing more was done, and I was forced to ask again. This time, the girl who originally took my order arrived – actually, I caught her attention as she passed by – and my bill followed swiftly. It was 400 rubles.

There's a Starbucks just around the corner...
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