A brand new Lebanese restaurant named FOSSIL opened up right under our noses a couple of months ago, and we're happy to report this is the second pleasantly-surprising ethnic restaurant we can report on in as many issues.
Several months ago, a Lebanese friend had told me to look out for what he called "the first and only real Lebanese restaurant" to open on Myastnitskaya Ultisa. I figured he and the owners must be old friends, from the same South Lebanon border village, but happily this wasn't just a case of old-fashoined blatt.
The unhappily-named Fossil is located in the same general courtyard as the legendary Petrovich club. Its sandstone-colors clash--and lose--against Moscow's dark winter slush, and the first impression walking down into the spacious basement setting is, "This is the worst music I've ever heard in my life--and there's a lot of bad music competing for that title in Moscow's restaurants!" It's like a cross between karaoke, bad 80s music, and soothing Arab techno. But thankfully, it's not loud.
And the high ceilings do a lot to take you away from Moscow and prepare you for Fossil's culinary delights. The tables themselves are a bit odd, offering all shapes and sizes of chair and table within a kind of Middle East excavation site dedication to right angles...if that makes sense? The best room is the kalyan room in the upstairs back, with its pastel purples and greens and blues, and low comfy sofas and tables. If only I smoked kalyani...
Onto the food. Our waitress seemed a bit annoyed with us, perhaps because she wasn't too accustomed to customers. We started with a handful of appetizers: hummus (190r), Babaganush (210r), and Sambusik Bakli or spinach pastries (190r). We were surprised to see no falafel on their rather extensive and saliva-producing menu offerings. When we asked the waitress about falafels, she gave us one of those looks like, "Before you asked about this so-called 'falafel,' I would have considered sleeping with you, trapping you with a child, and moving with you to the West. But now...it's as if you have a highly-communicable disease."
Meaning: no falafel. Never even heard of 'em.
The love was gone, but the food arrived, and without a doubt, it was the best hummus and babaganush you'll find in Moscow. The hummus was thick, satisfying, and properly tahini-ized, unlike say the mayonaissed hummus at Damask and other places. The portions were large, and the pita bread was decent, although skimpy. The spinach pastries were baked to perfection, fresh and delicate, but a tad small.
After stuffing ourselves on the appetizers, we left room for just one main: the Kafta, a minced lamb kebab with spices. Once again, this was a winner. The quality meat was succulent and full of flavor, and the portion size was just right. My only beef was that they served it with a warm tomato sauce that tasted like Barillo marinara sauce.
Fossil offers a good variety of Lebanese cocktails, although we stuck with the average-priced beer. They also have plenty of overpriced kalyani on offer.
Overall Fossil passes the single most important test for Moscow's restaurants: I'd go back again. In Moscow, when you're a food snob without cash, that's about as good a compliment as you can expect.
Adress: Ulitsa Myasnitskaya 24/7, Str. 1
Metro: Chisty Prudy
Hours: 12.00 – last client