Cross Keys Pub
The Keys to Heaven and Earth…or something pretty close to it!
Cross Keys Location
I was recently invited to Cross Keys Pub (website)to interview Sergey Efemov, the brains behind the menu (Follow on Instagram). This gem is located in the center of Moscow just around the corner from the “Big Three” metro stations, Tverskaya, Chekhovskaya and Pushkinskaya, at Malaya Dimitrovka 3. I had the opportunity to meet with Sergey, the head chef of the pub and two other pubs, Stags Head Pub (http://stagshead.ru/) and White Hart Pub (http://whitehart.ru/) and chat over some food and a few beers.
I have to say that before I get into the nitty-gritty of our conversation when you walk into this place you immediately realize that some serious cash was pumped into this place. The interior, from the walls, the dividers, the wood (and I mean the deep dark cherry wood), the beautifully crafted tables, the bar and all of its intoxicating splendor, to the plush, tall-boy chairs (pun totally intended). I felt like this would be a bar the “wall street boys” would patron down in the financial district of NYC – I felt at home!
Anyway, back to the conversation with Sergey. Sergey is a very well-experienced chef at the young age of 33, he’s made quite the name for himself over the years. A small tidbit about Sergey. He started out as a confectionary chef, and after seeing some of his pieces, this guy’s got the chops! He’s studied in the UK, Austria, and Switzerland. He’s worked in Europe, Saint Petersburg, Georgia (the country, just in case you got confused) and now he’s back in his hometown of Moscow. I asked Sergey what makes CKP (that’s my little acronym for the pub) different than any other pub/bar in Moscow and here’s what he had to say about that: ‘This is the type of place where truly everyone is welcome. It’s not uncommon for a few college students to roll on by, sit down at the bar, have a few beers and right next to them are a couple, suited-up professionals or a wealthy business owner. We’ve even had an oligarch or two pop in!’ I have to say that, by the look of this place, it’s no wonder that everyone wants to be seen here. When asked to describe the interior of the pub, Sergey simply replied, ‘It’s a real Dublin pub!’ Now, I’ve never been to Dublin but hopefully, some real Dubliners are here in Moscow and you guys can tell me if the inside of this place cuts the mustard or not! But, let’s put the interior to the side for now. We’ve got more pressing things to talk about, like the FOOD!
To be honest, I didn’t have the time nor the capabilities to taste everything from the menu but Sergey and his team weren’t gonna let me leave without trying a few very interesting dishes that, after trying them, I can, without a doubt, highly recommend. The service started off with a Guinness and another question for Sergey. Since we were starting the night off with a drink, I thought it would be appropriate to ask him what his favorite drink was? His reply: “Whisky or Jack Daniels.” We had a laugh about how many of my Russian friends find it funny that I, the American, prefer Vodka and they prefer whiskey. Everyone has their own thing, replied Sergey. Not long after our introductory beer, our appetizer arrived – A Set of Three Pastes. This is a basket comes with a chicken liver pate, hummus and cream lard served with crispy toasts. I gotta say, that this is a must try for two reasons. I never thought that lard could taste so good! And two, Sergey explained to me that an appropriate appetizer prepares the palette for the main course. An appetizer should offer a variety of flavors that awaken the taste buds. Good to know! Alongside the three pastes, Sergey ordered a plate of beef tartar, aka, raw beef. Now, I understand if you’re not one for eating meat in “the buff” but, maybe you can throw caution to the wind just once. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
In between bites and drinks, Sergey and I discussed a little more of what makes Cross Keys so unique. First off, the name. Stemming from the Roman god, Janus, who was said to be in possession of “keys of power” that could access heaven and the gods above. In addition to that history, the Scottish Freemasons also have keys as emblems – Golden Keys to be specific. These were symbols of the knowledge to all the mysteries of the world. Christianity also holds closely that Peter was given keys to paradise from God which, to this day, are depicted on the Vatican’s coat of arms, symbolizing the heavenly and earthly paradises.
On with the food! For our main course, I asked Sergey to surprise me with something unique. This would be one of their signature dishes, Beef Wellington. Sidenote: As I am browsing through their online menu (http://crosskeyspub.ru/%D0%BC%D0%B5%D0%BD%D1%8E/) I am at a loss. I don’t see it on their menu. Was this a special request from Sergey to the chef for this special occasion? Is this a secret menu item that one can ask for? Well, I am not one to pry but, I’d recommend when you do come down to Cross Keys to try this place out for yourself, and you’re feeling like having something off-menu, ask your waiter/waitress and roll the dice! Of course, let us know in the comments section if you were successful (or not)! Back to the Duke…I mean, Beef Wellington. This tenderloin cut is so soft on the mouth and so easy to chew. It’s best to eat this medium-rare – absolutely perfect all the way around. The bacon wrap around the tenderloin is just a perfect addition! The crust, golden brown, flaky yet just enough wetness to stick together (not like a taco where it all falls apart on the first bit)!
When asked what he saw as the future for Cross Keys, Sergey is not a man of many words. Very practical and to the point, he proclaimed: “Make money and stay in business.” The team at Cross Keys were very knowledgeable in all that they offer. Their menu is offered in both Russian and English and several of the wait staff speak English. They have plenty of super comfortable seating whether dining alone, for two, or twenty, this place can handle just about any request! We are currently working on some specials for our community so please be sure if you aren’t reading this on the website, that you head on over there now and sign up for our newsletter and you’ll be one of the first to know about all our offers and future events!
I’d like to say thank you to Cross Keys Pub, Sergey, and our friend Lana for making this all happen!
I would also like to say thank you to you all for reading, for your support, and for your willingness to go out there and try new things! Until next time!
-Have a “filling” week!