“Russians are slow to saddle but fast to ride.” This Russian saying perfectly sums up the country’s relationship with sustainable dining. While the ethical food trend has been gaining momentum in the West for some time, the movement has just landed in Moscow. An increasing number of restaurants are now offering greener dining options. We rounded-up our favourites.
Twins Garden: a farm-to-table experience in Moscow
After growing tired of constantly hunting for quality ingredients to use in their kitchen, twin brothers and chefs Sergey and Ivan Berezutsky decided to buy a 50-hectare piece of land in the Kaluga region, located a couple of hours drive from Moscow. The area is considered one of the most ecologically clean spaces in the country. The brothers also teamed up with the Timiryazev Agricultural Academy, to offer the best farm-to-table experience in their restaurant, Twins Garden.
Today, 70% of the vegetables, fruit, dairy, meat, fish and herbs they use are sourced from Kaluga, and dishes on the menu can easily be made vegetarian or vegan. The twins also have a no-kill policy for the animals that call their farm a home and have set up a special charity fund for their on-site dog shelter. Hosting several charity dinners throughout the year, Sergey and Ivan raise funds for a variety of causes in the hope of changing guests’ perceptions and attitudes towards giving to those in need.
Striving towards a “zero waste” culture, any leftovers are sent back to the farm and fed straight to the animals or composted. Furthermore, because the large majority of produce comes straight from the farm in wooden crates, there is no plastic packaging or waste. Sergey and Ivan plan to develop agro-tourism tours of their farm to show people what the future of eating holds - mainly sustainability, seasonality and environmental awareness.
Address: Strastnoy Blvd, 8А | Website
Botwa: home to the best Russian female chef of 2018
A brainchild of Elena Savchuk – the Best Russian female chef of 2018 according to Gault & Millau -, Botwa is a 100% vegan bistro-style eatery, set in Dom Kultury restaurant. Here, Elena is on a mission to make Muscovites fall in love with vegetables. Her dishes are bright, multi-faceted and unlike anything you may have seen or tried before in vegan cuisine.
The menu is divided into three sections: tiny plates, large hot plates and desserts. “I want to demonstrate that vegetables can be tasty and filling, especially for those people who grew up in the Soviet era. However, I don’t want to engage in militant vegan propaganda - I want all my guests to feel comfortable and get the maximum enjoyment out of my food,” Elena told us.
Alongside her team, she meticulously checks all the produce before serving it to customers and changes the menu according to seasonality. Some of the greens used in the dishes come straight from her husband's farm and she adheres to principles of “zero waste” as much as possible in her kitchen.
Address: Bolshoy Sukharevsky Pereulok 25 | Website
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Choice Healthy Social Club: flexitarianism and clean eating
Irina Azarova is known on the Moscow dining scene for opening Fresh, the first mini-chain of vegetarian gastronomic restaurants in the city. Her latest project is stylish and spacious Choice Healthy Social Club, a “grown up” version of Fresh as some food critics have dubbed it. Flexitarianism and clean eating are the main pillars here.
The ingredient combinations are designed to give guests all the best health benefits. Vegetables are at the heart of every dish and complemented by a protein source - be it fish, eggs, dairy or a plant-based option. There is strictly no meat on the menu. Additionally, the wine list was developed alongside the ‘famous wine geeks’ from Big Wine Freaks and includes several vegan, organic and biodynamic bottles.
Choice Healthy Social Club is located in a historic building in central Moscow. The designers were tasked with recreating the traditional mood and preserving as much of the old interior as possible. The space boasts a large open kitchen, to reflect transparency and honesty in the cooking process.
Address: Malaya Nikitinskaya Street, 16/5 | Website
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Flora No Fauna: a vegan cafe in the trendy Tsentralny Market
Flora No Fauna is a vegan cafe in the trendy Tsentralny Market with a focus on ethics and aesthetics. All dishes are prepared using local, seasonal produce and organic ingredients, while flour, additives and refined sugar are completely avoided. Needless to say, the menu is totally plant-based and has a few raw and gluten free alternatives, too.
We recommend trying the tofu scramble for breakfast - you won’t believe it’s not eggs. To instill sustainability values in us all, the cafe offers a 10% discount on all drinks if you bring your own thermos. They also encourage us to bring reusable food containers and utensils and support a range of projects that care for the environment.
Address: Rozhdestvensky Blvd, 7/1 | Website
KM20: Fashion meets sustainable food
Fashion meets sustainable dining at KM20. Located on the third floor of the KM20 concept store (voted the best fashion store of 2017 by Highsnobiety readers), KM20 Food was conceived as a place for Moscow’s fashionistas to enjoy good quality food at reasonable prices.
Apart from making their own almond milk, crafting their own ice cream and growing as much of the ingredients at their farm outside of Moscow, the team behind KM20 Food have also taken it upon themselves to educate Muscovites about the beauty - and necessity - of zero waste living. The kitchen avoids single use plates and cutlery, and has replaced them with reusable boxes. All single use items are now made of paper. Bringing your own cup for your to-go hot drink earns you 10% off, as does reusing the little plastic bottles in which KM20 Food sell their own cold-pressed juices.
All the recyclable waste is collected and then sent off to be recycled with their trusted partners Sfera Ekologii. No Plastic is Fantastic consults KM20 Food on everything they can do to move closer to zero waste and hold a variety of brunches and dinners regularly to spread awareness around environmental issues.
Address: Stoleshnikov Pereulok, 2/1 | Website
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Stall By Natalia Berezova: eco-friendly neo-bistro
Inspired by the neo-bistro culture of Paris and London, Natalia Berezova's stand at the shiny new DEPO food market serves natural seasonal food. In every dish, Natalia aims to use as much local produce as possible, supplied by trusted farmers so that the ingredients don't have to travel far and wide to get to your plate. We recommend trying the sorrel ramen with nettle and carrot/potato noodles.
Vegan-friendly options share the menu with meat and fish. You’ll find Zander, a Russian species of fish whose population is not under threat. For a rather small eatery, the wine selection is also impressive and includes organic and biodynamic varieties.
Takeaway containers are all cardboard and biodegradable and patrons are encouraged to embrace sustainable consumption by receiving a 10% discount on their coffee if they bring their own mug or tumbler (this seems to be a growing trend in Moscow!). Don't forget to pick up your very own ‘Stall by Natalia Berezova’ tote bag if you then plan to do some grocery shopping at DEPO.
Address: Lesnaya Street, 20/3 | Website