The legendary restaurant “Yar”
The French tavern Yar, and later the legendary Russian restaurant, was a cult place of Moscow bohemia of the 19th and early 20th centuries. In terms of luxury, high quality gastronomy and extravagance, the pre-revolutionary Yar was considered the number one institution and not a single Moscow restaurant has been able to surpass it until now. History has preserved many amazing facts about this unique institution.
The Yar restaurant, founded by Frenchman Tranquil Yard (Yar), was opened in 1826 in the center of Moscow, on the corner of Neglinnaya and Kuznetskiy, and then moved to Petrovka. When the tavern could no longer accommodate all the visitors, it had a branch outside the city. The beginning of Leningradsky Prospekt, which now you cannot even call the outskirts (rather, the center), was then considered a backwater. However, it was this building beyond the Tverskaya Zastava that became incredibly popular, making Yar one of the best restaurants of those years. Over time, the old building was completely closed, and the branch began to expand, modernize and grow rich.
Horses fed for free
The remoteness of the new Yar did not bother anyone. Every evening, wealthy merchants and nobles rushed to the restaurant in trotters, and for coachmen such orders were considered very profitable. Firstly, passengers generously paid to the cabmen, and secondly, the restaurant gave hay to their horses for free. And in the 1890s, a tram line began to pass by the Yar. Gradually, from one hall and several rooms, the room turned into the most chic and fashionable drinking establishment in Moscow.
Since 1871, the restaurant became the property of the merchant Aksyonov, who was nicknamed Orange for his full figure and bright blush. At this time, so reckless and loud merchanting bouts were practiced in Yar that the memory of them is still amazing. For example, cheating merchants liked to play “in the aquarium”: the piano standing in the hall was filled with champagne and “let in” fish there – not only live ones, but oil sardines from a can. This tradition remained in the restaurant with the next owner. And merchants, for fun, beat dishes. The cunning Aksyonov decided to turn such hooliganism to his advantage: he established a kind of price list, according to which each such misconduct was punishable by a fine in the restaurant. Smudge the face of the waiter, run a bottle in the mirror, throw plates – all this cost a lot of money. And this is despite the fact that all the property of the restaurant was insured.
After a few years, the restaurant began to bring huge profits. The owner made a winter garden in Yar, installed a fountain and even carried out gas lighting.
“Yar” reached a special heyday at the turn of the XIX-XX centuries. In 1887, its new owner was Alexei Sudakov, who once served as a waiter in the same restaurant, and later ran lower-level taverns. With the help of the architect A. Erichson, he rebuilt the building. Two chic halls appeared here that adorned living tropical plants and fragrant roses brought to Yar directly from Nice.
In the hall there were wide pools in which fish of various varieties splashed. Any visitor could choose a fish for himself, and, before the restaurant employee took it to the kitchen, the “client” cut a piece from the gill. When the cooked dish was served, the visitor applied a missing piece, checking to see if it was the exact same fish.
With the advent of motor transport, Yar acquired its own and a garage so that a driver could leave behind the most famous visitors.
Sudakov increased portions in the restaurant, and also constantly monitored the freshness of dishes. Fedor Chaliapin, for example, called the restaurant’s gastronomy “African splendor.”
Yar was a truly expensive, elite place. According to the recollections of contemporaries, breakfast here was at a cost equal to a train of grain. A grilled chicken was worth as the monthly salary of an ordinary Muscovite – and that’s not counting the side dish. Rich gourmets were ready to spend any money, without hesitation, for the divine and unique taste of spring steaks, truffles, chickens, partridges and breams for a couple.
By 1911, the restaurant had its own power station, all rooms had water heating, an artesian well was drilled in the area. The courtyard of the restaurant was surrounded by an artificial rock built of plaster, with bridges, gazebos and a waterfall. At that time, the Yar could accommodate a thousand people.