Кулинарная лавка братьев Караваевых/ Karavaev Brothers’ Culinary Shop
ул. Щепкина, 33
Hours: 8:00 – 23:00
Average meal: $12-15 (20% discount on entire menu after 19:00)
The network of «Кулинарные лавки братьев Караваевых» (Karavaev Brothers’ Culinary Shop) seems to be exploding in popularity as of late. With 13 locations scattered throughout the center of Moscow and another three opening soon, it’s clear that their brand of souped-up buffet style dining at a comparably low-price is addressing a need for high-quality cafes that don’t leave you in a panic about making rent.
Walking into their location on улица Щепкина (Shepkina Street) near the Олимпийский стадион (Olympic Stadium) in the Проспект Мира (Prospect Mira) region, one is taken in by the cozy surroundings. The style is laid-back with an edgy twist: artfully mismatched chairs surround wooden tables big enough to spread out a few textbooks/ laptops; corkboards are strewn with compliments to the chef and random kids’ drawings complete with adorably crooked Cyrillic. If anything, the owners seem to have had versatility in mind when planning the furnishings, which comfortably accommodate anyone from the student looking for a place to hole-up and study for an afternoon to those stopping in for dinner date.
One of the unique features of the Karavaev Brothers is their international take on buffet-style dining. Whereas other establishments with a buffet option (Елки палки for example), focus almost exclusively on tried-and-true Russian favorites like винегрет (Vinegret), сельдь под шубой (Herring under a Fur Coat) , and pickled everything, the Karavaev Brothers serve a rotating smattering of international dishes along with the more standard Russian fare.
The options tend to change out from time to time, but when I was there, the chicken curry (170 rubles) and schezuan beef (190 rubles) with aromatic basmati rice would fill anyone’s desire to add some spice (other than dill) to their life. If you have a few more rubles to spare and a craving for steak, they also serve thick slices of medium-rare tenderloin that you usually only see on menus in more ritzy places at why-didn’t-I-go-to-law-school prices. If you’re really on a budget though, they also sell very generously-portioned wrap-sandwiches with a variety of fillings for about 120 rubles. Fresh-squeezed drinks, including морс made from the omnipresent, bright-orange облепиховый berry, are also delicious and affordable (60 rubles).
Another huge perk of the Karavaev chain is their after-7 p.m. discount of 20% on everything. If you’re having a few friends over or know that you won’t have time to cook for a few days, Karavaev is a great place to stop by and load up on tomato-and-mozarella salad, wraps, and one of their artfully-packaged small наполеон (Napoleon) or птичье молоко (Bird’s Milk) cakes. You will spend a good-deal less than if you bought from the prepared-food section at an upscale grocery store like Азбука вкуса and the variety will give you a break from that monotony of eating the same Плов you made for yourself four days in a row.
“For groups and faculty-led tours,” stop in and buy a few cakes and a round of coffee after the ballet for a fraction of what you would cough-up at Шоколадница. Some locations are a little short on seating, but if you have a smaller group of under 10, you’ll likely be fine. If you have larger numbers, you can always order your food to go. If you are in one of the many locations that are relatively near a park, you could stop there for a picnic. If its current popularity serves as any measure for its future growth, we should be seeing a lot more кулинарные лавки братьев Караваевых soon!