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A sophisticated, efficient hideaway in the middle of the CBD.

On a busy Wednesday lunchtime I head to Pravda, a European themed cafe/bar/bistro that sits at the heart of the capital and offers ‘the honest simplicity of bistro food’.

The dining area is suitably grand, with its towering ceilings adorned with chandeliers; huge mirrors and windows that make the room look even bigger. The dark wood panelling and furniture is classy; the layout neat and precise. In the background some inoffensive nu jazz plays, soundtracking the business lunches that seem to be happening at every table. I’m one of the only people in here not wearing a suit. There’s a statue of Lenin at the end of the bar and communist paraphernalia dotted around the walls – quite ironic in this CBD environment that feels so overtly capitalist.

The menu predominantly features classic European cuisine, with a couple of Asian dishes thrown in, and seems to have been put together with a lot of care and passion. Everything sounds delicious and interesting, without being over the top or pretentious. After much deliberation, I opt for the swordfish steak ($34), while my friend decides on the crispy sage risotto with duck breast ($36).

The food comes out incredibly quickly, and when our waiter sees the surprise on my face he explains that the menu is designed that way, as so many of the clientele here are on a tight schedule. I’m definitely not complaining. The presentation of the food is immaculate and perfectly matches the design of the whole place – sleek and refined. My swordfish is cooked beautifully and full of flavour, complemented by wafer thin radish, crispy capers, pea shoots and a dash of lemon mascarpone. It’s easy to overpower the delicate taste of swordfish, but everything here is perfectly subtle, and the interaction between each element of the dish works wonderfully. The side of broccoli in Moroccan butter is also a treat, but my friend’s risotto is slightly spoiled by the duck being far too chewy. The taste is still great though.

Overall I was impressed with Pravda. The service was top notch and the staff have clearly mastered the fine art of being efficient and attentive without being overbearing. The food was mostly excellent and the menu offers so many tantalising prospects that you could clearly keep coming back without ever getting bored of what’s on offer. It’s not the sort of place I would usually frequent, but if you’re looking for a fast and delicious business lunch or dinner, this is the perfect spot.

Published on July 30, 2015 by Luke Owen Smith

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