Крошка-Картошка / Kroshka-Kartoshka
Пр. Вернадского, kiosk (one of many around Moscow)
Meals for ~60-200 Rubles/ ~$2-$6
I’m only a couple of weeks into my program, and SRAS has already provided two lovely tours for its Moscow students. However, as there is much to see in Moscow and as it is a “walking city,” the hours of exploring have always worked up quite an appetite in me. After the first tour I was headed back to my homestay on Prospekt Vernadskovo near the university and saw the green Kroshka Kartoshka kiosk.
On that first occasion, I ordered a Tost Kurinny (toasted chicken sandwich) and since then, every time I pass, it has called to me with its greasy goodness. It has become my guilty pleasure here in Moscow. After our second tour, I could almost see the personification of my stomach, on his knees with his hands folded and begging, yes begging for something to eat, in front of my fatigued and faltering eyes. Thus there was only one thing on my mind: a meal of Kroshka Kartoshka in the comfort of my host’s home.
Kroshka Kartoshka was one of Russia’s first successful fast food establishments – and has largely flourished mostly thanks to the simplicity and delectability of their concept. The name translates to “Little Spud” and they specialize in stuffed baked potatoes: simple, cheap and filling. They have since expanded their offerings to toasted sandwiches and some their new permanent locations (they have traditionally done kiosks, but now have a few actual “restaurants” as well), offer soup and other menu items.
On the front counter in plain view of the customer are all the fixins: meat assortments, various sauces of the dairy variety, veggie mixes, fried onions, and more. You automatically get a healthy slab of butter and a scoop of cheese with every potato, and on top of that I added a veggie mix of sauteed mushrooms and diced peppers, a thick cream sauce, and the little fried onion chips. The basic potato of just butter and cheese is 68 rubles, and you then pay a few extra (between about 15-30) for each toping, but they are worth it.
I also asked for the Tost Myasny (toasted mean sandwich), such a sandwich being my usual staple. The bread is toasted to golden perfection, two small meat patties and a cream sauce constituting the substance of the sandwich. The “tost” offerings are a good six to seven inches long – a hefty hunk of food considering the price (68 rubles).
Right as I arrived home, the rain started coming down hard. I don’t know if I would have preferred to experience my first rain in Moscow any other way than devouring a hearty meal while surveying the wet world outside.
As I said, this is definitely my guilty pleasure. I’m really not a fast food type of guy, but I can’t think of anywhere in the states (at least in California) where you can get a baked potato with those delightful Russian fixings. Wendy’s has potatoes of course, but they never really fit my fancy. The Russia version is so much more filling and the topping more diverse. So on a chilly day when you’re hungry and want to take something home, Koshka Kartoshka is a wonderful choice…but you may want to space out your visits as it’s a meal your taste buds will greatly appreciate, while your heart may not.
For groups and faculty-led tours, Kroshka Kartoshka might be a possibility, especially if you happen on a location that has some outside seating at a park. However, for large tours, it might be time consuming to file everyone through, especially if there is, as happens sometimes, only one person behind the counter (sometimes are as many as three, though, in which you’d be in and out in no time).