Café Pushkin, A Moscow Legend Brought To Life.
Café Pushkin, A Moscow Legend Brought To Life
Café Pushkin is more than a concept. It’s more than a time capsule. This dreamy ensemble of antiques, legends and baroque magnificence is an institution of its own. Housed within a rose-hued mansion on Moscow’s famous Tverskoy Boulevard, this Maison Dellos restaurant draws diners from around the world for a date with history – and a sampling of Russian culinary delights served with a French flair.
Look at Café Pushkin from any direction or perspective, and it will reward you with a story. The beautiful if unusual visage of its two-storey building speaks of a blending of baroque elements and muscovite flavour. This amalgam was carefully crafted by the 18th century Italian architects who designed the building as a retirement home for a former nobleman. Their ode to a well-loved architectural style and an equally well-loved city remains carefully preserved to date, in the shape of exquisite stucco work, cast-iron grilles, and original paintings adorning the ceilings.
A treasure-trove of antiques and artefacts awaits you within the café. Encounter vintage scientific instruments, globes and telescopes from the personal collection of the building’s second owner, a German aristocrat. This gentleman, faced with the prospect of bankruptcy, later opened a pharmacy on the ground floor. Find remnants of that time in the elegant pharmaceutical scales and inscribed porcelain bottles that still accentuate Café Pushkin’s interior, as well as in its extensive library of over 3000 books. This library originated as a lounge for the pharmacy’s customers, who would wait for their medicines over a book and a hot beverage. A small café thus came into existence, gradually evolving into what would become the building’s identity.
Intertwined with these tangible mementos of Café Pushkin’s history, is another narrative that lends the place its signature romance. In 1964, acclaimed French singer/composer Gilbert Bécaud mentioned Café Pushkin in “Natalie”, a song in which he reminisced about his time in Moscow and his lovely Russian guide.
“We are walking around Moscow, visiting Red Square, and you are telling me learned things about Lenin and the Revolution, but I’m thinking, I wish we were at Café Pushkin, looking at the snow outside the windows,” Bécaud sang.
The song fared so well in France that it brought a steady stream of tourists to Moscow, all looking for the beautiful Café Pushkin where you could sip hot chocolate after a visit to Lenin’s tomb. But the café itself remained a work of fiction, until 1999, when French-Russian restaurateur Andrei Dellos brought it to life by renovating the historic mansion on Tverskoy Boulevard. To mark the café’s poetic journey from fantasy to reality, Gilbert Bécaud made an appearance at the grand opening, performing his iconic song “Natalie”.
Today, Café Pushkin exists as a series of delightful spaces, each designed along a different theme. A cheerful café welcomes guests on the ground floor, a beautiful restaurant occupies the mezzanine level, and the upper floor hosts a stately library eatery. Resident chef Andrei Makhov’s menu features Russian classics such as borcht and sour cream, pelmeni-stuffed dumplings, beef stroganoff, and blinchiki with black caviar. Together, the ambiance and flavours of Café Pushkin offer an immersive experience of Russian history, culture and cuisine, albeit with a subtle French influence that appears in the wine selection and the food presentation.