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Denis Simachev Bar in Moscow: the Khokhloma style

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Booths draped in velvet, mosaics depicting scenes from Japanese hentai, and the radiator grill from a Rolls-Royce. Although the dance floor is only a tight couple of meters wide, there are as many as eight glitter balls, painted in silver. When you look at what has now become of Stoleshnikov Pereulok, it’s hard to believe that only eight years ago this sanctuary of quiet and splendour. calm and luxury did not exist at all.

Six years ago, none of the people who now buy his clothes or order breakfast in his cafe could have predicted that Denis Simachev, a rising and already well established Russian designer, would take his place right between Burberry and Hermes. Not him personally, of course, but the eponymous boutique stocked with creations from his latest collection.

When it was opened, this complex with its avant-garde and extremely impressive facade was something quite fantastic. Now it would be hard to imagine Stoleshnikov Pereulok without the place, with its entrance lobby generously covered in Khokhloma lacquer in the best traditions of the art.

It's certainly worth mentioning that for Denis Simachev, the Khokhloma style has become a trademark of sorts. There are few things that the designer hasn't covered with it, from Play Station 3 gaming consoles to one of the world's most beautiful sport bikes, his Ducati 999S. Ducati’s Moscow representatives were so pleased by the super-bike, painted in the finest traditions of the ancient Russian craft, that they gave Simachev several other machines to decorate, including a 748R in the Gzhel style. Then there’s the Porsche 911 Turbo, also in the Khokhloma style, which is an art object in its own right that needs to be seen close-up to be fully appreciated.

And of course, after all that, what was going to be the facade of the place that houses the Denis Simachev Bar and his eponymous boutique? Of course, the building was covered in Khokhloma lacquering which, among the conservative establishments on Stoleshnikov Pereulok. makes a particularly powerful impression. Even if you don’t like it, you certainly can't ignore it.

The boutique occupies the first floor, while the ground floor is given over to the bar. Almost all the features of the decor, from the 18th century English bar counter to eighties light-fittings and lamps from Morocco, were collected by Denis himself from literally throughout the world. The interiors as a whole may not appeal to everyone, but they are certainly original, even for those who are used to the richly varied Moscow bar scene: Booths draped in velvet, mosaics depicting scenes from Japanese hentai, and the radiator grill from a Rolls-Royce. Although the dance floor is only a tight couple of meters wide, there are as many as eight glitter balls, painted in silver and gold, hanging over it.

Despite all of this, and no matter how avant-garde the interiors may be. The majority of the clientele here are of the opinion that the most important thing at Denis Simachev Bar is not in fact the decor, but rather the crowds and the music. The place, which has rapidly gained the same cult status as its creator. packs in wonderful music and no less beautiful people. Many society figures are now regular customers, as are the members of the press who follow them. There are regular members of the public, too.

The kitchen is run by two chefs invited especially from Britain and New Zealand. They have tried to spice up the more or less traditional selection of dishes found at smart Moscow eateries with a menu including pumpkin pizza, toasted chicken sandwiches, and risotto with grilled langoustines. The beer is sold only in pints, and includes Harp, Kilkenny, and Guiness, all of which are still rarities in the Russian capital.

Crockery and cutlery are set aside from Friday evenings through the weekend, when the fashionable and famous come to dance the night away. For them, the bar serves a wide range of freshly-squeezed juices and fruit cocktails and, of course, top-class alcohol, including the superb Sandeman 40-year-old, and the no less excellent 50-year-old Glen Grant. In comparison with other Moscow venues of a similar level, the prices at Denis Simachev Bar are perfectly reasonable. The average bill at the very same Most Cafe, one of the city's most popular breakfast haunts, is likely to be considerably bigger. Almost everything at the club is perfect. I say "almost everything", because there is one small but significant fly in this otherwise glittering ointment. The club has one of the strictest face control policies in the city. But then, what did you expect? The club is small, and there is no shortage of people wanting to get in.





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