September 01, 2008

Simple Gifts


Prostye Veshchi (“Simple Things”) is a small café across from the Moscow Zoo that bills itself as a “gastropub,” a neighborhood gathering place with surprisingly sophisticated fare. The café underlines the “simple” of its name in all that it does, with charming results. The placemats are made of brown wrapping paper, and the window boxes are planted according to season. In the spring, they are filled with verdant grass to evoke Russia’s beautiful meadows. Strawberries replace the grass in mid-summer, and when fall arrives, the boxes sport pumpkins. 

Café manager Julia Lukashina notes that Prostye Veshchi is very much a group project. “One of the owners worked for restaurateur Arkady Novikov for a long time and wanted to open a place that would differ from Moscow’s typical expensive restaurants,” she explains. “Our focus is not prestige, but the atmosphere of a European neighborhood café, where regulars drop in to say hello and people come to catch up. The difference is that our neighborhood is the entire city.”

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