Street food with spirit
simple greece

by grace watson

With streetside shawarma joints and farm-to-table food halls appearing more and more often, Moscow's affection for street food and fast-casual dining isn't going away anytime soon. Simple Greece has joined the trend, opening up near Novokuznetskaya metro station, an underrated area that's both charming and bustling.

There are plenty of run-of-the-mill chain restaurants and cafes nearby, convenient indeed for weary museumgoers after a trip to the nearby Tretyakov Gallery. Now Simple Greece offers an alternative to ubiquitous frozen burgers and fries that's just as easy on the wallet... but a bit easier on the stomach.
The laid-back, relaxed vibes will put you right at ease; to be honest, you'll need them after the difficulty of finding the cafe, which has mislabeled signs on the window that include no mention of its correct name. Those of us who managed to locate it knew to keep our eyes on our phones, as new visitors surely would — and did — need to call for assistance. It was with baffled faces and shaking heads that we finally perched at a rather cramped table.

The place just might make your visions of a Mediterranean stereotype come true. It's run by a startlingly animated chef who is himself straight from Greece and very pleased to show it. As such, prepare to be treated to impromptu bouts of (loud) traditional dance that may or may not be punctuated by (even louder) plate-smashing and stomping. Opa indeed!
The food isn't quite as remarkable as the show, but it's cheap and hearty. The Greek salad, though very typical, features fresh ingredients that counterbalance all the greasy food, including fried potatoes, cheese balls, and even an inexplicably oily (and under-seasoned) eggplant starter.

Our group loved the matsoni, a thick yogurt served for dessert with white cherry jam that was luscious and creamy yet still somehow refreshing. Otherwise, the prevailing assessment was "Nothing special." The food was all quite standard and certainly very familiar, but that said, when you're just after an easy bite and a friendly chat, it's not always adventure you need.

Be advised: Service isn't snappy, especially for larger groups. As there's no designated wait stuff, guests must be proactive if they require a change of utensils or plates, which quickly pile up given the shortage of space. Nevertheless, spirits stayed afloat thanks to the live entertainment, which likely accounted for much of the staff's distraction as well. So sit back, order a round of craft beers, tuck into a skepasti — essentially, Greek pizza, which the chef asserts is the original kind — and let the sound of smashing plates carry you away.

Simple Greece
Address: Pyatnitskaya, 10