Opening Hours: Restaurant/Cafe- 24/7, Nightclub- Wed/Thu/Sun (from midnight), Fri/Sat (afterparty)
Feis Kontrol Rating: Bar/Cafe: Low 1/5, Nightclub: Moderate- 3/5
Address: 8 Brodnikov Per.
Phone: +7 (495) 238-9745
Garage is Back! (kind of). The new Garage is set to open on September 9, and while retaining some elements from old Garage, it's certainly a far cry from the dank (but loveable) basement of the old Garage.
Garage aims to be a comfortable place where patrons can come for great food, drinks, and kalyans 24/7 at reasonable prices. On club nights patrons can decide whether to chill on the expansive terrace, or kick it up in the downstairs nightclub.
Garage takes the symbiotic relationship of the old Garage+Cafe Pushka that occupied the space above the Garage until 3 years ago and combines it into a single venue.
The club is located just over Kameniy Most, less than a kilometre from the Kremlin (even closer than the old location, although I'm not sure if that is a plus), near Metro Polyanka. Despite my "never south of the River" mentality (Sorry, First, Rai, Fabrique, etc), it's incredibly easy to get there, especially from the burgeoning club region near the White House (another bizarre juxtaposition).
Upon entering Garage, the first room you come to is a bright cafe-style room with several windows, perfect for a quick snack or coffee during the day, but a little awkward at night, when patrons opt for the more comfortable terrace or bar rooms, or head straight to the club.
The second room is the main bar/restaurant room, also called the "graffiti room", in honour of the large grafitti mural of sports cars in a (you guessed it) garage. All seats are couches in the form of car seats, and the tables are carbon fibre. The old Garage radiator fans are backlit and spin in the wall, and the red brickwork of old is now whitewashed. The metal lampshades now hang in a new, clear format, giving the room a strange sense of familiarity to those who knew the old Garage. A long bar with barstools caters to patrons who prefer to watch the bartenders in action making the new repertoire of delicious cocktails.
Passing through an almost-hidden corridor at the back of the bar will bring you to the terrace, which appears almost as another world. A light, airy combination of lounges, curtains, and a truly relaxed atmosphere make this my favourite place to chill with a kalyan in the new Garage.
On club nights the entry staircase will cause old Garage flashbacks- Garage has carefully relocated the original metal staircase and railings from the old Garage, and the only difference is the colour scheme. The deja-vu is enhanced once you reach the dancefloor, the coloured squares on the dancefloor, bar height and lights are all reminiscent of the Garage of yesteryear. The colour scheme is largely metallic, with a solid steel bar and a shattered-glass effect underneath.
Off the dancefloor, a large private room with cosy exposed brick can hold up to 6 table reservations, and another corridor leads to another two rooms with private bar and toilets, perfect for parties. Both are equipped for karaoke. Completing the below-ground offering are additional unisex bathrooms.
The menu is a mix of hits from the old Garage, and some popular offerings from the restaurant in the location that new Garage displaced. Typical Moscow-style Russian/European offerings are plentiful, but notable are some delicious foreign touches, the spicy thai salad, fajitas, empanadas, tom yum soup, burritos, chicken wings and more make for some tasty diversions! Surprisingly, Garage's sushi and other Japanese offerings have received rave reviews from customers.
The biggest difference in the offerings of the new Garage is the focus on new and interesting cocktails, and quality kalyans. The bar manager Sasha is freshly imported from one of Bulgaria's top cocktail bars, and has written a creative mix of specialty cocktails for the club, and injected imagination and fun into the cocktail process- ask for him to come up with something unique for you! Another noteable addition are the cocktail shakers- 1000 rubles for 500ml of a special mix available in five colours, served in your own shaker with shot glasses- try the legendary Garage red shaker!
Pre-opening, it's tough to evaluate how Garage will succeed in attracting both old and new clientele- necessary since the new location is over 3x larger than the old. The club has been open in a test regime for 3 weeks, and initial impressions have been positive. Perhaps the biggest thing in Garage's favour is the wholesale migration of virtually the entire team from the old Garage, so the new venue already seems familiar, and it certainly a comfortable place to pass the time. As a restaurant and 24/7 cafe and place to chill out, Garage certainly seems to have a bright future, and as a nightclub- Stay tuned!
At best, the new Garage strives to be the old Garage, but updated and made more comfortable. At worst, it's an eclectic mix of styles and environments with an overriding techno/automotive theme that don't quite click together. Time will tell which will prevail!
For the review and pictures of the old Garage, please click here.
Disclaimer: MoscowMAXIMUM is involved with Garage, so while I've tried to make this review as objective as possible, some bias may remain. So there! :)