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Who feeds Moscow – What Uilliam Lamberti’s are restaurants made of

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This Friday the last major premiere of the year will take place: Uilliam Lamberti’s “Ugolek”. Uilliam’s at the Patriarch’s Ponds with it’s bruschettas, an open kitchen and inevitable hustle became the new canon of Moscow restaurants. “Gorod” disassembled Lamberti’s success into components.

 

Bruschetta

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Photo: Mark Boyarskyi

 

In its basic version bruschetta is a grilled slice of bread with chopped tomatoes, garlic, salt-pepper and olive oil. Lamberti upgraded bruschetta to a “gourmet” variation (with crab for 750 rub. In Uilliams), got hooked on bread even those, who twitched hearing the word “carbohydrates”.  Only in year it appeared on the menu of almost all places, responsive to fashion, and Uilliam himself reduced the idea to the postmodern absurdity. In Zupperia for 300 rub. they serve a piece of bread, avocado and salt – all separately – and call it “bruschetta with avocado.”

 

Simplicity

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Photo: Sergey Leontiev

 

Declarative simplicity insures William against vulgarity – he did not invent anything extraordinary, but most literally transferred the style of modern trattoria to the Bronnaya. Lamberti-chef is prone to natural. It’s a fire, minimum of ingredients and organic materials.

 

Kitchen of the kitchen

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Photo: Maria Minkova

 

Lamberti was not the one who invented an open kitchen, but it became a fetish object for him. There’re the most expensive stoves in the world in “Uilliam’s” that Ducasse and Ramsay use. Provencal firm “Molteni” produces them – and that is “Rolls-Royce” of the kitchen. They cost more than 150000 Euros, one oven door sometimes weights nearly 40kg. At “Ugolek” they are going to grill meat in antique wood-burning stoves brought here from Massachusetts.  “Honest”’s story is simpler, but nickel-plated appliances here rhyme with Spartan tiles and ventilation pipes running underneath the ceiling. If earlier luxury was all about the guests, at Uilliam’s restaurants irrational money is invested mainly in maintaining Chef’s comfort.

 

Wooden plates

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Photo: Mark Boyarskyi

 

Crumpled kraft-paper and a written with chalk in intentionally sloppy manner menu, instead of common plates – wooden plates, which darken and crack after multiple use; ponderous forks and knives, on which remain scratches and chipped spots. It looks as though «Uilliam’s» has functioned here always, and «Bacchus» bar that stood here before, never existed. All surfaces in Uilliam’s restaurants represent their manmade imperfection. And this cozy frazzle, detailed rustic of decoration has awoken craving for handcrafted affectation in Moscow restaurateurs. Sergey Berezutsky has gone further than the others. At his “Kak est” food is served in a half of stump, tins and on a log which is put on a plate with singed hay.

 

Mezuzah

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Photo: Mark Boyarskyi

 

Uilliam Lamberti is an Italian Jew from Ancona, and despite the fact that there’re no kashrut in his restaurants, this fact affects them. First of all, in all Lamberti’s places mezuzah hangs on the doorposts. It is a scroll with prayers from Torah put in a case. Secondly, none of the restaurants have pork. What is for cabbala that Uilliam practices, it does not affect food’s taste. Except that it imparts spiritual confidence and contributes to his new places’ popularity amongst wealthy adepts of the teaching.

 

Tight Seating

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Photo: Natalia Gafina

 

In “Uilliam’s” all visible space is chocked up with tables – and still there are almost never any vacant seats. If one does not book beforehand, in the summer he will have to seat on a bench with a pillow under his bottom (and in the winter – just to go away). If a seat in a hall is found, you will have to reach it by following a winding zigzag path, forcing other guests to stand up. However, they do it with smiles and do not grumble. In “Uilliam’s” there are only 60 seats, but the restaurant manages to feed 500 persons per day. The secret is that there is a pre-cooking department – “Uilliam” shares it with Ginza’s “Mary Vanna”. And all this congestion and overcrowdedness is thoroughly orchestrated. In a 2000 rubles bill is included an opportunity to jostle with people for whom there is no difference between 2000 and 20000.

Bobo

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Photo: provided by “Ugolek” restaurant

 

When “Uilliam’s” opened, his creators counted on foody – mythical audience, obsessed with food. However, it seems unlikely that even 10% of this place’s regulars spend their time by a stove. They’re rather charmed with food: they enjoy taking pictures of it and posting them in Instagram, talking about food, but not cooking it. Uilliam’s gastronomy gives reason for communication, but is not a main topic of discussion. Everyone guest here has a vaguely familiar face – from TV, from Facebook, from former life. Fashion audience, that settles for around three months in any decent place in downtown after it’s opening, does not leave Uilliam’s places at all. It became clear how to call it after an output of David Brooks’ book “Bobos in Paradise” in russian. As a matter of fact, backdoor bar with fireplace on the second floor of “Ugolek” is called like this – Bobo.

 

Host on duty

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Photo: Natalia Gafina

 

Lamberti has a luxurious southern appearance: swarthy good-looker with expensive glasses, tidily combed hair and tattooed hands that are seen underneath his robe. No wonder he tries to appear in all his places personally – he instructs cooks, greets regular guests or smokes alone aloof from public. Not because he is immodest (he is not), but because this way his clients start to trust Chef more.

 

Sweet and salty

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Photo: Mark Boyarsky

 

Over the years spent in Moscow Uilliam has convinced himself that Russian culinary enigma can be decoded through pickles and jam – people here love to mix sweet and salty things. If one keeps this thought in mind, all his trademark dishes get resolved on two tastes-primary elements. An octopus on a grill is a cephalopod that, not without Uilliam’s contribution, became something like new rocca salad with shrimps, and it is sweetish. And a sauce, in which you suppose to deep tentacles, is salty. Duck confit is sweet. Risotto is salty. Potatoes with truffle oil is sweet. Parmesan slices above are salty.

 

 

 

Full-height windows

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Photo: Mark Boyarskyi

 

Windows that start at the floor and end up at ceiling are another feature of Uilliam’s places’ interiors. Whether they are profiled doors, wide-open to the street, at “Uilliam’s” or “Ugolek” that is about to open, or Moscow roofs behind the glass at “Honest” (what is more, you can finely see everything that happens in “Nobu” and “Rose Bar” on the opposite). In all Lamberti’s places it is captivating to look not just at your plate, but also around you. Then the action develops almost following Michel Foucalt’s “Discipline and Punish”. While observing the world outside the window, guests turn into objects of others’ observation, getting in a circle of a secular optics.

 

 

Business as a non-disclosure

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Photo: Ivan Pustovalov

 

Lamberti’s restaurants obviously have professional business-provision – but here it is deliberately hidden behind the stage; only Chef is on the foreground. In every project there is a partner: for “Uilliam’s” and “Ugolek” it is Ilya T’utenkov – managing partner of “Mary Vanna” (on the photo), for Zupperia, Honest and Double Dutch – Alexander Oganezov, co-owner of “Chayhona #1” and “Mi Piace”, but general public is usually unaware of them. Presence in any form of “Ginza-Project” corporation, patronizing some of Uilliam’s places, can be read only on the level of a subtext – and at that Lamberti was considered to be a brand-chef of the company for a long time.

 

 

 

Address: B. Nikitskaya, 12

Tel.: (926) 119 81 11

Working hours are to be confirmed

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