Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Review: GQ Bar (GQ Бар)

Opening Hours: 24/7 (Bar), 12-last customer (Cafe)
Category: Lounge, Pre-Party, Bar
Feis Kontrol Rating: Low - 1/5, Dress smart
Address: Balchug Ul., 17
M: Novokuznetskaya
Phone: +7 (495) 956-7775
Website: http://bar.gq.ru/

GQ Bar opened with much fanfare in March 2007 as Moscow restauranteur extraordinaire Arkadiy Novikov's latest and greatest venture (in collaboration with Conde Nost Publishing- hence the name).

It was designed along a similar theme to some of his other restaurant/lounges such as Galereya and Aist, but on a more ambitious scale. The venue consists of a cafe-style restaurant (similar to Galereya), and a more upscale restaurant (similar to 2nd floor at Aist), as well as a long bar- which is the subject of this review.

In my opinion, the better scene at GQ is actually in the cafe, where there's more entertaining "see & be seen" Muscovites, hotter girls, and fewer lonely tourists and hookers.

To find GQ Bar, go right as you enter GQ, coolly dismissing the haughty greetings from the maitre'd's (who would have duly informed you that all tables in the empty cafe were reserved anyhow), and into a long narrow room, the decor of which is part throwback to the English gentleman's clubs of old, and cutting edge, with a bar made of crushed black glass, interwoven with fiber optics for some dazzling visual effects.

The long bar is lined with barstools for those in front, and some curious niches at either end, where you can actually sit behind the bar, confusing some patrons who try to order drinks from other customers sitting behind them.

Opposite the bar, the wall is lined with bookshelves and wine, there's a fireplace with candles, and overstuffed couches which take up far too much space. At either end of the bar is a staircase which takes you to a mezzanine on top of the bar where more lounges and tables are located. Barstaff are generally snooty, although somewhat knowledgable about the cocktails and food they serve.

GQ Bar is a popular pre-party spot on Friday and Saturday evenings, when it's packed from about 9pm to 1am, and the bar has gogo dancers and the music is amped to get the crowd in the mood.

You could fill a book with all the things I dislike about GQ Bar. First & foremost, it's an uncomfortable space, this long skinny bar gets very busy, and it's impossible to move through the crowd, or find a comfortable place to stand without getting jostled. The second floor mezzanine seems to serve no appreciable purpose, you might as well be marooned on Mars up there, since the view is not good enough to be a reason to sit there, yet the bar and music are too loud up there to be a nice secluded space to talk with friends.

The attitude and practices of the bartenders add further injury to the unjustifiably high prices, they routinely try and serve patrons Imperia (one of the most expensive vodkas at approx $40/shot), when they request a vodka mixed drink. I've personally had arguments where they have done this and then refuse to remake the drink with a reasonably priced (ie $20/shot) vodka.

The crowd is significantly older than most places in Moscow, and reflects a mix of over-the-hill hookers, visiting businessmen (one of the reasons for the oversupply of prostitutes), and others who think it's "cool" to be in GQ's bar (Note: it is still arguably "cool" to be in one of the restaurants). Hordes of tourists, who've read that GQ Bar is the "it" place to be throng the place gushing about how they were able to get past "face control", who are next to useless.

One of GQ Bar's redeeming features is that it is (like Galereya) one of the few (admittedly sparsely) populated places on a Monday or Tuesday evening, the nights that this city that never sleeps is practically clinically dead. The resident DJ is also usually pretty good, playing an appropriate mix of house for the chill environment.

Go and experience the pretension of GQ for yourself, post comments if you agree or disagree!

No comments: