To find Korchma simply come out of the metro and walk down Strastnoi Blvd. Petrovka will be running parallel to that street and Korchma will be one of the first places you’ll see.
Somewhat hidden and having only two small signs designating its location, Korchma has something of an unassuming edifice. The only clue connecting the facade to the festive interior is the man in traditional Ukrainian garb who opens the door for you and says hello with a smile.
The inside of the small restaurant is decorated with loads of pictures, instruments, icons, ivy lining the top of the wooden walls, and countless other pieces of fun little paraphernalia. Our hostess was a boisterous middle-aged woman who loudly welcomes all the patrons with enthusiastic tidings and inquires as to what language menu they would prefer (they apparently have many different languages available). She then sits you down at one of the tables covered in stiff cloths and with napkins stitched with colorful, charming, yet bucolic, earthy embroidery. After a few moments of looking through the novel-length menu, our young, beautiful waitress came over, asked what kind of bread we would like, then just stood there patiently, pen in hand, until we decided what to order.
The whole atmosphere is casual and festive, especially with the bouncy Ukrainian music which perfectly completes the whole aesthetic.
The complimentary bread was served with four individual bowls of seasoned butter for each of us. It was delightfully rich and the perfect way to whet the appetite for the entrees to come. However, as I was eating our delicious Ukrainian black bread with the glorious butter and looking at the menu, I got a little nervous. Most of the plates with substantial portions are four to five hundred rubles. Indeed my friend Julian ordered a salad and a bowl of dumplings with a glass of water and spent well over six hundred rubles (~$20). Not to mention that the cups of tea my friends Kris and Qui Di enjoyed were 140 rubles each.
However, I stuck to my Cheap Eats budget and ordered a plate of chicken wings (320 rubles) with onions, parsley, lemon, and lettuce that came with two of the most amazing sweet/savory sauces I’ve ever had in my life. The chicken was impossibly moist and I don’t think time itself has ever picked bones so clean. The chicken had been cooked in herbs and spices with a squeeze of lemon. The sauce made it even more amazing. Kris had a huge bowl of borsch (170 rubles) and Qui Di decided on a plate of salmon and potatoes (120 rubles), the former of which I tried and really enjoyed…wonderfully fresh and perfectly salted, just as fish should be.
As we finished Qui Di said “good choice,” to our choice of restaurant for the evening and we all agreed with a unanimous thumbs up.
Though perhaps not the place at which to dine two or three times a week, Korchma was the perfect treat after a Saturday of site-seeing. Everyone there was super nice and, as we left, the hostess insisted on taking a picture with Kris and Qui Di (pictured). If you have an afternoon free on a weekend, you have to pay this place a visit. There’s no way you’ll leave disappointed.
For groups and faculty-led tours, Korchma can be an option, although you’ll want to reserve a room at one of their larger restaurants (they have several around Moscow) and probably order a set menu so as to keep prices reasonable and the service quick for a group.