Monday, 28 January 2008

Review: Galereya/Gallery (Галерея)

Opening Hours: 24 Hours, 7 Days. (No reservations after 9.30pm)
Category: Lounge, Post-Party, Pre-Party
Feis Kontrol Rating: Low - 2/5
Address: Petrovka Ul. 27
M: Pushkinskaya/Tverskaya
Phone: +7 (495) 937-4544

Galereya is the quintessential place in Moscow that everyone loves to hate, yet so may people (myself included), find ourselves back there at all times of the day or night. Yes, it's pretentious, it's Novikov, it's not good value (this is Moscow- what is?), it's full of hookers, the food's not great, the service can be terrible, but for all that- I'm an unabashed Galereya lover.

Why? I'll answer at the end of the post, but first- a little about Galereya.

Galereya is a 24-hour restaurant & lounge, located on the corner of Strastnoy Bulvar and Petrovka. It's immediately recognisable (like all Novikov places) by all the black cars idling out front. Through the entrance and feis kontrol (yes, at a restaurant, but thankfully it's not too painful), the coat check and bathrooms (constantly a wait due to all the people powdering their noses and/or f**king) are on the left, and to the right past the maitre'd and DJ lies the restaurant.

Although the restaurant is bustling most evenings, I find the greatest attraction at Galereya to be the luxurious lounges which are located on the left at the far end of the restaurant. These chocolate-coloured monuments to relaxation are perfect whether lounging with friends over a leisurely drinks/dinner/late night dessert (or later-night breakfast), or canoodling with a new-found friend (sometimes acquainted on-premises). They're great for groups of 2-10 or more, as there are all shapes & sizes.

The menu is the typical Novikov Evrotrash menu, with a mix of decent salads, pastas, fish, meat, sushi, etc., but the unique and best attraction in my opinion is the "Nostalgia" Russian menu, featuring tasty, traditionally prepared Borsch, Pelmeni, Chicken Kiev, and more (at New Russian prices). The dessert range is also very extensive and delicious- vital for a 24/7 venue.

The reason I've included a review of Galereya in a nightlife guide is that it's bustling at all times of the day and night. On Monday's and Tuesday's it can be the only game in town, and post-5/6am on the weekends the place is packed with people fuelling up for the after-party, or before heading home. It's a safe bet that if Galereya's dead, there's not much else going on in town.

The other outstanding feature of Galereya is its summer patio, which comes alive with capacity for another 100 people as soon as it's warm enough to do so. On the weekends, it's a stand-alone party in its own right, with gogo dancers, bands, and more comfortable lounges.

The crowd is a mix of wealthy young Russians, higher-income expats, older businessmen, girls sitting alone sipping tea and waiting for company (who may or may not be for sale), couples canoodling, or groups of friends preparing for a night out. The lounge is frequented on weekdays by the club promoters, who will breeze through with some club models or dancers handing out compilation CD's to advertise the coming weekend's parties.

One of the nicer things about the scene at Galereya these days is, having opened close to two years ago and as such now the 4th most recent place that Novikov has opened, the "must-be-seen-at-latest-Novikov-place" crowd has now moved on to pollute GQ Bar, and Galereya is left with the "regular" see-and-be-seen crowd (if this doesn't make any sense to you, you haven't spent enough time in Moscow).

So why do I like Galereya? For many of the reasons above, it's comfortable, it's well-located, it serves decent food, it has great scenery, and it's a great place to hang out with friends or bring visitors for a taste of a certain aspect of Moscow life.

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