Nestled among obscure high-rises deep in Moscow‘s expansive suburbia, in an area called Nagatino-Sadovniki on the southern bank of the Moskva river, to be precise, one finds a café with all the hipster traits that make it look out a little out of place. But then again, the Russian capital’s hospitality scene has changed dramatically in the past two decades as a large number of consumers have become increasingly savvy, and perhaps more importantly, their disposable income steadily increased at the same time. Called Kulinaria Samberi, it occupies a ground floor corner unit of a modern, multi-storey complex comprising of both apartments and offices, and its concept as a family café, seamlessly matches the profile of most of the neighbourhood dwellers. It’s a lofty L-shaped space which measures 250 sqm. (2,691 sq.ft.) and sees an interior design by architect and designer Shushana Khachatrian and her team at local architecture practice Studio Shoo.
The chosen aesthetic may take cues from Kulinaria Samberi‘s location – mind you, the pillars in the space painted in a similar red hue as the ones that demarcate the gallery right outside the restaurant – but generally is a clever exercise of making the most of simple materials, and the main one being plywood. One side of the premises is home to an open kitchen and bakery, replete with a sizeable display counter laden with food products. The café accommodates a maximum of 67 guests, spread across three different seating areas and also a variety of seating configurations. Round tables are alternated by square ones, and larger communal tables, including a table with built-in sockets suitable for laptop users. There’s a playful mix of modern chairs to be found at Kulinaria Samberi, carefully sourced from different Russian designers and brands, including pieces by Studio Shoo, Anna Strupinskaya and Delo. As said, plywood is plentiful here, captured not only by table tops and floor-to-ceiling shelving, but also by large wall tiles. The flooring, made up of terrazzo tiles, adds to the venue’s light and airy atmosphere. The menu at Kulinaria Samberi lists both Russian and European light dishes, snacks, salads and soups, in addition to a selection of pastries.