Written on March 22, 2012
Fancy watching the match? Well, more or less regardless of your team, chances are you’ll find them in action at Bobby Dazzler, possibly Moscow’s closest imitation of a proper English pub. And, with the Premier League heading to a tense conclusion, the Champions League getting to the sharp end after months of skirmishing and Euro 2012 little more than two months away, it’s high time to get to know the place if you like a bit of televised football.
Although Moscow doesn’t lack for sports bars, Dazzler’s is a bit different. It’s one of very few places in town where it’s possible to roll up, grab a seat at the bar, and get dragged into a bit of banter with whoever else happens to be around. No standing on ceremony, all you need is a beer and an opinion on the day’s play. Even if the regulars are mostly Russian, there’s no great language skill needed to communicate your thoughts as Andy Carroll performs his ‘Bambi on Ice’ impersonation for the hundredth time that afternoon.
That said, it is worth booking a table if you’re coming in a group, or if you’re planning to drop by at the weekend, or on a night of big football action. The place is often packed, with various big clubs adopting it as an unofficial home for fans to gather and catch a match. Manchester United has the most obvious connections, but large groups of Spurs, CSKA and Liverpool fans are also often found – along with a Sunderland fan who lives nearby and watches matches while muttering anxiously into his beer. Unusually in Moscow, it’s entirely non-smoking – and indirectly disproves the claim of many English publicans that a smoking ban is driving them out of business. If you have a good venue, and the right atmosphere, people will even brave a Moscow winter for a quick nicotine hit.
Beer and football, of course, go hand in hand, and Bobby Dazzler imports an impressive range of (mostly English) brews. Prices are usually a shade under 250 rubles for a pint – more than you’d pay for the same in London, but not all that much more considering the import costs. And don’t forget that Russians in London are confronted with similar mark-ups on Baltika 7 – a bad beer at a poor price! Personal favorites include Young’s Double Chocolate Stout or Marston’s Oyster Stout, both rich, dark complex ales, or the sweeter Honey Dew, from Fullers (all 240 r). My regular drinking companion prefers something lighter – usually an unfiltered Belgian Blanche de Namur (240 r) or occasionally a fruity Mort Subite (295).
The menu is also extensive, and will supply anything from time-honored bar snacks – the grenky (145 rubles), garlic toast, are excellent – to a range of pies and sausages that claim to evoke British pub grub at its most authentic. It doesn’t always quite succeed, but it’s usually a good attempt in the circumstances – even the pork pie (440 rubles) is a creditable attempt, with the meat close to what I’d expect at home even if the pastry is slightly off. Meanwhile, the Chicken Caesar salad (370 r) has become the standard by which all others are judged in Moscow, at least as far as my regular drinking buddy is concerned.