It was my idea, to create an original meat restaurant. I knew that if I just made an eatery, I wouldn’t earn anything, because it only sits 30 people — you need the average check that’s quite high, you need people to drink expensive wine. Together with my partner Artem Tskhakaya we had already bought a herd of bull calves and were simultaneously creating Beef Zavod in St. Petersburg. In Moscow, we decided that it’s not going to be just a bunch of steaks and some fries, we wanted to do something bigger. So, we sent our chef Dmitry Finyagin to Burgundy, to a village restaurant located right at the vineyard. It’s called L’Auberge du Vigneron, which means Winegrower’s Shelter. Burgundy is known for the fact that they eat cows whole. The only things that are left are the horns, hoofs, and hide. They have this rich culture of consuming offal, and so we sent Dmitry there to figure it all out.
And then he worked in Paris, with a very famous butcher Hugo Desnoyer — he has two butcher shops in the city, and one of them has a common table, and for lunch they have a set menu and they feed eight people. Dmitry learned meat dressing there and all the local French secrets. And we created a menu that’s became a symbiosis of the French and Russian traditions.

We change things around there, but the essence stays the same: it’s all centered around meat and vegetables. Plus, the wine menu. And since we set the course for using meat from grass-fed cows and vegetables from farmers, it was only logical that our wine menu would consist of bio wines. It was probably Russia’s first wine menu exclusively made up of bio wines. Next year, we were awarded Best Wine Menu prize from GQ —probably, for being so bold. Because the restaurant itself didn’t get off the right foot. Our guests started telling us what real meat is and what real wine is. That we don’t understand a thing and that no apprenticeships in France will help that. But two or three years later things took a turn for the better. Now we no longer have any problems, no one is trying to explain anything to us, and we are the ones doing most of the explaining.

We often bring meat from the Basque Country or from Scandinavia, where they do something similar, and have blind tastings with our meat. Sometimes we even do it for the clients. We have this thing — Max Torganov’s Meat Club. Max is our partner and brand butcher who selects meat for our projects. The club organizes special dinners for all the meat lovers, and Max performs there.

He always brings something special or showcases our own special meat. All of these specimens are different, and there those that Max calls “grand cru,” meaning that they have a special kind of marbling. The animal could be a part of the same herd, but this specific cow’s meat is special. And we didn’t know it until it was butchered.

Or we may bring some meat from abroad, from some serious meat producers, and we serve it in the evening, comparing our meat and theirs. Such format, similar to comparative wine tasting, is very popular. On those nights, the place is full, and we are totally happy. Because we see the public that we want to see. And people see what we dreamt of showing them. I often come of those days, and I can see this special atmosphere of a perfect restaurant. It’s full of those who should be there, they are served by people who know what they are talking about, they are communicating as equals, without “I’m going to tell you everything, and you just sit there — or just stand there.” There is a real exchange of information, exchange of knowledge, exchange of tastes — a really cool thing. I think that very few people get a chance to experience this bonding of souls — either here or anywhere in the world. That we were able to achieve this is a special source of pride.