Feb 20th, 2018, 11:13 AM

The Patriarch Ponds of Moscow

By Anastasija Baiko
Image Credits: Pavel L Photo and Video/Shutterstock
The so-called “Soho of Moscow” is the city's hotspot.

During the day and night, the streets around the Patriarch Pond, or as the locals call it “Patriki,” continue to attract and entertain the local people. The areas surrounding the pond have always had a popular reputation. Originally, the pond was named after the 17th Patriarch Goat Sloboda and was located on what used to be then, the Goat Marsh. It was considered an anomalous zone since the brook that connected it to a river disappeared one day and the Marsh became isolated to form what is now the central pond of the Patriki area. 

 
Image Credits: Flickr/ Кирилл Чеботарь

In the 19th century, the area was completely different in terms of infrastructure, but nonetheless popular, especially among artists, writers, and the Moscow intelligentsia. Cheap rental buildings occupied by university students surrounded the pond and after the revolution, even the spacious apartments owned by wealthy merchants became cheap communal apartments. Even Mikhail Bulgakov, the author of “Master and Margarita”, lived in this area with his wife, which consequentially inspired his novel.


Image Credit: Wikimedia / A J Butler "Bulgakovs house"

The architecture was different from today's Art Nouveau mansions and Patriarch apartment constructions. By the 21st century, the communal apartments were bought out, renovated and established into luxury residences that formed one of the most affluent residential areas in Moscow. All in all, in the preceding decades the neighborhood became gentrified. I experienced this gentrification through the numerous renovations, fashionable stores, restaurants, and bars opening up. Every week there was something new to try out. The atmosphere screams to the middle and upper class, leaving behind its past filled with communal buildings and working-class tendencies. The narrow streets such as  Malaya Bronnaya Street, Spiridon'yevskiy Pereulok, and Bol'shoy Patriarshiy Pereulok offer numerous types of cuisines and fusions that are run by independent chefs such as the well-known Novikov Group and the Berezutsky brothers. Restaurants open every week but never chain restaurants, the groups and chefs encourage people to indulge the taste of real, quality food. The Novikov Group is my personal favorite sphere of restaurants owned by the very talented chef Arkady Novikov. This group is international, and therefore, not only based in Moscow. If you click on the company name it will take you to a huge list of his restaurants from which I could definitely recommend the restaurant Aist located on the Patriarch Ponds and Vogue Cafe in central Moscow where they serve the best wild berry cake made following the chefs old, signature recipe.


Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Андрей Колычев

All the streets are right next to the pond, all interconnected so you will not get lost and should definitely take the chance to wander around. I encourage you to explore this area as there are various places to try. The Partiks are well known for wandering around, usually people arrive and go from one place to the other, and consider huge flows of people; the area fills with a delightful party atmosphere. Bourgeois but fun, however, not in the sense of pricing, you’ll notice restaurants in Moscow are usually surprisingly adequate in terms of prices.


Image Credits: Aist/Novikov 

I recommend to walk near the pond that inspired the setting of Bulgakov’s “Master and Margarita,” either once you arrive or later in between the visits to the various restaurants and bars. You should walk down the Malaya Bronnaya Street and all the restaurants are mostly located on it such as Keanu, a Korean fusion tapas, and drinks restaurant you should go to if you are willing to experiment and share your experience. Also, there is Uilliam’s, a contemporary gourmet restaurant with a cozy atmosphere. Finally one of my favorites, Aist, has a huge assortment of dishes and a striking terrace on the top level to spend time on during the warm days. Aist is the place I always choose to head to first during the summer. Winter is not that bad but to enjoy the fresh breeze and warm sun on the terrace of Aist is a must do. It has dishes from sushi to traditional Russian dishes, thus you can order a palette of different tastes, share and enjoy. If you want a more intimate choice do pass through the narrow streets perpendicular to the Malaya Bronnaya, which are the Spiridonovka and Bolshoi Patriarshiy. There you’ll find the famous Mari Vanna restaurant, known for its traditional Russian cuisine, therefore, you should definitely try the Borsch soup and Pelmeni while you're there, and Gilda, a restaurant that always has a good crowd and great selection of wine that I enjoy each time to choose from. 

Traveling to Russia is an extraordinary experience in terms of the lively atmosphere, entertainment and dining experience. Moscow is one of my personal favorites and if you are there looking for a great time, not too formal and that involves great dining, you should definitely visit the Patriach Ponds for a multidimensional experience.