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Culture news, 06.08.2007 14:37

Made in the Med

villa_urbana By Evgenia Ivanova

Staff Writer

Villa Urbana // 21 Zagorodny Prospekt. Tel: 380 7955, // Open around the clock // All major credit cards accepted // Lunch for two without alcohol 1,885 rubles ($74)

“Making your dream of a worry-free holiday come true, in our restaurant we create the atmosphere of your favorite resort destination, giving coziness, comfort and warmth to every guest,” reads the flyer for this restaurant.

Well, given some of the exotic and at times confusing constraints on ordering certain dishes at Villa Urbana, “your favorite resort destination” might be one from the Soviet past. Back then you knew for sure that if a menu said a certain dish went with a certain side order, you had to either take it or leave it — negotiations were meaningless. Nevertheless, despite a few niggles over what and when you can order certain dishes, we suggest you read this review until the end before jumping to conclusions — this restaurant certainly has a lot going for it.

In terms of its menu, this place deserves a medal in the “most outlandish restaurant in town” category. According to their blurb, Villa Urbana every week offers a new “culinary adventure” to one of the Mediterranean countries. When we visited it a week ago, the “Mediterranean” country of the week was… Ukraine. But was it easy for us to “taste and travel” to our Slavic neighbor? At 1 p.m. it was too late to try the Voyage menu, “served daily from noon to 5 pm.”

With the restaurant only recently opened, it’s easy to see why there might be some teething problems with the complex revolving menu policy. Luring us to the restaurant, someone at the door had told us that if we wanted something from the breakfast menu (served 8 a.m. to noon) it was no problem. How wrong she was! There was no way they would serve a simple chicken salad from the breakfast menu. It was explained that during the day the price of dishes changes, and they are not able to calculate the cost of the salad since it was not on their list at lunch.

After some hard negotiation with the waiter we ordered the risk-free grilled chicken for 295 rubles ($11.60). We also ordered the Provence country salad (245 rubles, $9.60) and the Malta salad (265 rubles, $10.40). Made of liver and beautifully decorated with raspberries, the Provence salad was a hit, though the other dish paled in comparison.

Difficulties with the menu are more than made up for by the extremely pleasant interiors and wonderful atmosphere. Villa Urbana is elegantly decorated with airy rooms decorated in pastel shades.

There is also a great selection of teas, and a great hot chocolate option (150 rubles, $6.30) that make the place worth visiting for an afternoon beverage.

As does the “five o’clock” tea (from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. daily), where you can enjoy two desserts for the price of one. Villa Urbana has been open for only a month and it is to be hoped that, as the restaurant gets older, it will get wiser.

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