GlavPivTorg Restaurant / Ресторан ГлавПивТорг
Wednesday 24th July 2013
On this day I travelled from St Petersburg to Moscow on the high speed Sapsan / Сапсан train which was built in Germany by Siemens. The name means Peregrine, which is the fastest bird living on Russian territory. It is an example of the "Velaro" series and is very similar to the ICE (Inter City Express)-3 trains running on the German network and into surrounding countries. It is this type that will run to London from Frankfurt when DB (German National Railways) eventually starts running this service. They are also being built for Eurostar.
As my hotel in Moscow was out of the city centre I wanted to visit one pub in the central area before travelling out to it on the Metro. As so it was, that I was heading towards the oddly-named GlavPivTorg. This is obviously another combination name but I can't work out what its constituent parts are, although Piv obviously refers to Pivo (beer).
As I walked the short distance from the metro station I observed that I was parallel to the western wall of the Headquarters of the former KGB, now FSB. I soon passed the security men manning the barriers guarding the car park.
At this point I could see the restaurant on the diagonally opposite corner of the small square. If you take a table on the upper level I am told there is a good view of the Lubyanka building. That's a bit creepy, if you ask me, considering its awful history.
The building in which the restaurant is located was built as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and holds its own piece of dark history for it was here, on the first floor, that the infamous pact was signed on 23rd August 1939 by the Foreign Ministers of the Soviet Union and Germany, Molotov and Ribbentrop. It was observed by Josef Stalin.
This pact meant that the Soviet Union was able to annex neighbouring countries without Germany interfering. Thus the identities of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania disappeared completely and eventually parts of Finland, Romania and Poland were incorporated into the Soviet Union. It was this act, shortly followed by Germany's invasion of Poland, which caused the start of the Second World War.
The Soviet era is also remembered in the restaurant, but in a more tongue in cheek manner. It is divided into four major rooms and they are designed to look like Soviet government offices with green leatherette covered tables and reading lights. There is a lot of nostalgia for this era and this place is not the only example but people say it is the best. The menu is based on a healthy-eating cook-book issued by the Soviet government and dates from the 1950s. I may be cynical, but how often would the average citizen of the Soviet Union be able to obtain the ingredients of the recipes? It would have been just a few items a week, if possible!
Apparently, in the latter years of communist rule it actually was place to eat, known as Central Restaurant No 5.
I particularly liked the stained glass picture in a pastiche of the classic Soviet style of the young pioneers or maybe they are the Communist Youth, but instead of holding a sickle or a hammer in the air, hoisted above them is a foaming glass of beer! How very appropriate.
As I wasn't eating I settled at the bar and was told there were three house-brewed beers available: Amber, Red and Dark. I had the Dark, followed by the Amber, which was really just an unfiltered light beer. I thought they were both fairly good and the barman asked me what I thought, so I told him the same. He then offered me a small glass of the Red Ale, on the house. Although it was a bit too malty for my taste it was nevertheless, a good example of that style. The half litre measures were served in British one pint dimpled jugs.
I have to say that I liked this place. It was very comfortable but there was no effort at pretension, despite the theme. It was more like an accurate reconstruction than anything else. The staff were extremely efficient yet remained friendly despite being busy. From my position I noticed that all the juices were freshly squeezed or put into a juicer and this included those used to make cocktails. There is live music every night and it would normally be in the 1980s Soviet style. Some have said this is too authentic! Although the restaurant is not cheap it is reasonable by central Moscow standards.
Restaurant GlavPivTorg, Ulica Bolshaya Lubyanka 5, Moskva. Tel: 849 562 82591
Ресторан ГлавПивТорг, Улица Большая Лубяна 5, Москва
Open: Monday-Sunday 12.00-24.00
Metro/Метро: Kuznetskij Most/Кузнецкий Мост, line 7 (purple)
or Lubyanka/Лубянка, line 1 (red).
The restaurant is around five minutes from either.