Russia, March 20, 1999
If you visit Moscow, you will wind up here at least once!Ya know that scene in Pulp Fiction, where John Travolta and Uma Thurmon are sitting in JackRabbit Slim's, and Uma orders the "Five Dollar Shake"? Remember how Travolta was shocked at the price, then tried the shake, and said "That's a good shake, but I don't know if its worth five dollars"? Well welcome to Moscow's Starlite Diner, where the shakes are eight dollars ($8)! The shakes are good, and the cheapest in Moscow, but definitely not worth eight dollars. Too bad, I still get one every time I go.
The Starlite Diner, know to expats as "The Diner", is a Moscow institution, opening up in the early 90's as one of the first "Western" restaurants here that had decent service. The original at Mayakovskaya is still there, with a second Diner at Oktabraskaya. There was supposed to be a third, but that dream disappeared in August 98. Apparently, the diners are shipped from a factory in Florida, complete with pictures for the walls and napkins in the holders, and ready to be bolted down on a foundation anywhere in the world.
I'm just glad that they are in my little world. Every Sunday I like to go out for brunch, and usually it's to the Diner. I've had pretty much everything on the menu, but I keep going, just as we all do to good places, cuz it isn't just the food.
The Diner is a foreigner oasis here, with the likelihood of English, Finnish, German, or French being spoken more often than Russian is. Every time I go, I see someone I know, whether I want to or not, and we all give each other space. No one wants the Diner to be a war zone; we deal with enough poop on the street.
Most Sunday's find me in a booth with a group of my expat friends, slurping a shake while trying to figure out what I want to eat. They have an amazing breakfast menu, filled with blueberry pancakes, Belgian waffles, "bottomless" bowls of cereals, and interesting egg-based breakfast foods. The only problem is that the breakfast menu ends at 11am. Yes, 11 am! I have yet to get up and outta the house early enough to partake in the good eats! Every time I look at the breakfast menu, filled with all those yummy American delicacies, I get annoyed at the time limit. One of these days, I'm gonna have to grab the manager by the arm and give him or her and earful about realistic weekend rise times!
Well, not too much of an earful, I want to be allowed back! Moscow without the Diner? Ah! The horror! The horror!