Michael Hopf, Hotel Baltschug Kempinski, Moscow
Background Trained in Berlin, St. Moritz, and other cities throughout Europe, German native Hopf, 29, uses demanding service standards and a never-say-never outlook to help guests get the best out of Moscow.
Must-see Museum “Everyone wants to visit the Pushkin Museum or the Tretyakov Gallery, but people tend to overlook the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (25 Ul. Petrovka; 7-495/694-2890). It’s never crowded and it has excellent Russian paintings from avant-gardists like Ivan Puni and Vladimir Baranov-Rossiné. There’s a spacious courtyard filled with some modern sculptures, which is a nice contrast to the 18th-century building.”
Beluga for Less “For caviar shopping, I send guests to Dorogomilovsky Market (10 Ul. Mozhaysky, Khamovniki), a massive food market about 20 minutes from the center of town. The quality of the caviar is quite good and you can actually taste it before they put it in the tin. The prices are fantastic, about $120 for a pound of beluga.”
Hottest Table “Nedalny Vostok (15 Tverskoi Bul.; 7-495/694-0641; dinner for two $160), which means 'not-far-East,’ just opened in January. The room is slick and modern, but warm. The menu focuses on Russian-Asian fusion food; there’s an open stainless-steel kitchen and an aquarium filled with giant crabs—their specialty. And it’s not fancy; the Russian crowd will be wearing designer jeans with jackets.”
Beyond Borscht “For reasonably priced authentic ethnic food, try Uzbekistan (29/14 Ul. Neglinnaya; 7-495/623-0585; dinner for two $80). They serve Uzbek, Arab, and Chinese food in an ornate, Oriental-style space that looks like a Persian palace.”
Vodka Source “A lot of the nightclubs have something called 'face control,’ where they will only let you in if you are attractive or have tons of money. One place that is easier to get into and less expensive is Vodka Bar (18B Ul. Lva Tolstogo; 7-495/246-9669; cocktails for two $20). They have an incredible selection, including brands that are hard to find in America, like Kristall and Nemiroff. To fit in, sip your vodka straight.”
Hardest Day Yet “Two Russian clients came in and wanted to go to the World Cup semifinal in Germany—the next day. It was a mad rush, but in the end, they spent about $6,500 for tickets and another $20,000 for the plane. Sometimes price is no object—it’s just about getting it done.”