Element Moscow

Escape the Moscow humdrums at yacht-like pre-party restaurant Lodka on the fourth floor of Lotte Plaza. You won’t just stop in to the upscale Pan-Asian for a bite, but making a special trip is worth it for the Chinese chef’s culinary flourish.

Recently opened restaurant Lodka is something like the magic wardrobe from “The Chronicles of Narnia” — outside it’s just a dozen porthole windows facing the fourth floor of the Lotte Plaza mall but inside it looks like a great ship with a deck made of African oak and intricate Asian-inspired interiors.

As you enter Lodka’s main hall, you see a “fake” piano (it’s currently just a decorative piece that isn’t used by musicians), oak flooring, big wooden tables and comfortable couches. All this is available for solvent guests who are ready to pay for comfort. At the same time, the view from the window is not as fascinating as it is at the neighboring Balkon and Zafferano restaurants. The cityscape problem is smartly solved by management via video projections with marine life themes. When projected over the windows, the videos at transport you from noisy Moscow to a marine wonderland. Well, they look better than the traffic on Novinsky Bul., but it is still a strange experience to eat a sashimi salad while watching the dish’s ingredients living a happy life underwater.

When we arrived at Lodka at lunchtime we were almost the only guests there, which meant that the service was great (probably because there was nobody else but us to take care of). Our waitress was nice, smiling and quick. She also managed to describe what my salad’s sauce was made of — not a bad touch. The menu is beautifully presented on iPads — this new technology gives you the chance to see how each dish you choose is made and served.As for food, it was great but the greatness was actually a quality-price thing. The sashimi salad (610 rubles) consisted of three simple ingredients — raw salmon, tuna, salad leaves. Each component of the salad was fresh, light and rich at the same time; a slightly sweet onion sauce made it even better. The Chilean sea bass in sa-sa sauce with asparagus and red beans was beautifully served and well cooked but that’s about all — just a nice piece of fish for 1,400 rubles. Still, there are clearly more interesting dishes in Lodka’s menu, like, for instance, the shrimp in wasabi sauce (710 rubles). A number of slightly roasted prawns came served with a generous portion of thick green wasabi sauce and flying fish roe, and these are definitely a better choice than the sea bass.

The ramen soup with noodles and marbled beef (800 rubles) was not too salty, with most of the flavor coming from the deep, complex broth. The meat itself was lightly fried with a bit of crunch on the outside while remaining tender.

The range of desserts is quite wide. Meringues with cherry (900 rubles) surprised with a tasty combination of temperatures and textures. Hot, crispy meringue topped a scoop of ice cream, which was served floating in a harsh cherry sauce. The taste was thrilling but a little too sweet no matter how much you like sugar. Even if you are not a fan of sweets, try the lychees in caramel (350 rubles). The subtle fruits are stuffed with red beans and baked in caramel. A bowl of cool water and a sprinkling of sesame seeds complete the picture.
The occasions for going to Lodka, which sees itself as best suited for pre-party events, are tough to define. Although the restaurant is located at the 4th floor of a mall, you would hardly go there after shopping. Still, this is probably for the better. At least Lodka won’t become a kind of expensive food court.

Fans of pan-asian food, the luxurious, Abramovich’s-yacht-esque interiors and Eastern atmosphere of Lodka are reason enough to visit, despite the fairly high prices. Top-notch food and service are pleasant extras.

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