One thing Chisinau is not short of is places to drink – the
excellent locally brewed Vitanta and the Russian mainstay Baltika
are widely available, often bottled (and often out of date!), and
great local wine is widely available and incredibly cheap. Don’t
be afraid of the draught wine – it’s just as good.
Apty’s Pub, in Hotel
Dedeman Grand – okay, so it’s a hotel pub. And an “Irish”
pub at that (although the carpet and the waitresses’ skirts
are tartan). And probably the most expensive place in the town.
But it is very safe, and offers regular bouzouki music!
Unnamed Wine Bar, corner
of Str Sfatul Tarii and 31st August 1989 – a fantastic wee
wine bar, 50 yards down the street from the Dacia Hotel, that knocks
out bottled beer for 30p or so, and wine by the glass or the chamber
pot – 75p a litre. Popular with the local jakey brigade, but
a great wee find.
Vitanta Pub (upstairs),
corner of Str Sfatul Tarii and Str Bucuresti – looks a wee
but soulless, with high ceilings and little net curtains, but is
actually owned by the Vitanta Brewery itself, so is a pretty safe
bet for fresh, in date (!) beer. Meeting place for the Chisinau
branch of the Spartak Moscow supporters club.
Vitanta Pub (downstairs),
Str Sfatul Tarii – complete change of ambience for the intimate
downstairs part of the Vitanta pub, accessed from the street. Very
reminiscent of a Polish pub (especially Pub Medyk in Bydgoszcz),
in that it had meandering subterranean levels with no visible means
of escape in a fire. Don’t let that put you off!
Madrigal Bar – small
underground bar off Bul Stefan Cel Mare next to the Cathedral Park
– you’ll spot the big neon “PUB” sign a
mile off. Not a bad wee place, with a decent range of bottled beer.
Beer House, B-dul Negruzzi
– Probably the biggest pub in the country, and certainly one
of the more expensive! The Beer House boasts it’s own lager
(filtered and unfiltered), dark beer and red beer, all of which
are very palatable: try them all on a “Beginners Tray”,
then get a three-litre “giraffe” of the one you like
the most. Also does food.
Ialoveni, Bul Stefan Cel
Mare – This is a weird one: a fantastic, atmospheric pub in
the basement of a sherry shop (of the same name – the bar
keeps the same hours, so is always shut by 8pm). The downside: they
only sell sherry (in 250 ml measures!), and it tastes a little salty.
But it is a great place to mix with local “characters”
as they serenade you with bouzouki music and try and buy your girlfriend
more sherry. Not recommended on an empty stomach! And watch out
for the armed guard on the door.
Café Kito, Str Vlaicu
Pircalab – Opposite the International University, at first
glance, Kito is definitely a café (of the self-service, BHS
department store type), however wander deeper and you’ll find
yourself in a circular room staffed by young girls sporting Thunderbirds
uniforms. Popular with students.
Robin Pub, Str Alexandru
cel Bun – a “British” theme pub, and recipient
of the coveted Sporran Legion “Best Pub of the Trip”
certificate (it’s on the wall, along from the toilet door),
the Robin is not a bad wee boozer, if (a) you can forgive the Union
Jacks fluttering by the bar, and (b) you’re prepared to wait
2 hours for your meal if anyone else has ordered food before you.
Cactus Saloon, Str Armeneasca
– More of a food place than a straightforward boozer, this
small place on the corner of Str Armeneasca and 31st August 1989
has an extensive menu, including loads of veggie options. Lots of
Americana adorns the walls (and the waiters).
Nail Bar (no beer), Str
31st August 1989 – Walked in. Was told “no beer”.
Walked out, passing fridge full of bottles by the door! Not worth
a special trip, but seemed a wee bit weird (well, we were only in
there for 30 seconds!)
123 Bar, Str Mitropolit
Varlaam – Similar to the Nail Bar, but much more friendly!
A few yards along from the Dedeman, and right opposite Sun City
shopping centre, this is a strip-lit local boozer the way it should
New York Bowling, Str Vlaicu
Pircalab – a very plush Bowling centre and restaurant opposite
the International University, and a big hit with the men in the
money (going by the large cars and bodyguards hanging around when
we left!). The security are dressed up as NY police – hang
a left into the huge and atmospheric restaurant (complete with live
“muzak” at weekends) and take your pick from the impressive
menu and beer list.
Abba Bar, Str Mihai Eminescu
– we just had to go here for the sheer kitsch value. We’d
been told by the Milngavie boys it was a gay bar, and they weren’t
wrong! The only connection with Abba is the large framed poster,
otherwise it’s just a small cellar bar – you’re
better off with 123.
Time Out, Str Dacia (sports
bar in Botanica) – a local pub in the bottom floor of a block
of estate flats on the main road between the airport and the city.
Dead handy for Zimbru Stadium (we’d just seen the FC Dacia
game there), this wee bar may only have a handful of scarves and
flags (mostly German), but it has a decent selection of Moldovan/Russian
beer and a massive pull-down screen that picks up English Premier
League games. The wee red shed in the corner is the bookies’
Orasul Vechi (restaurant),
Str Armeneasca – A superb place to head for a Moldovan meal
at a decent price. Try and head to the more atmospheric dining room
on the right hand side.
Also (take someone else's word for it):
City Nightclub –
Rich went here twice. Handy for the city centre, but not recommended
by our Moldovan correspondent. A straightforward western style nightclub
(i.e. disco without strippers)
Black Elephant – Another
that Rich graced with his presence. He describes it as like a pub
that plays loud music.
Yellow Submarine –
owned by the original Black Elephant people, but suffers from isolation
at the far end of town where no-one ever goes. A bit like a local
Hard Rock Cafe.
Soho – A nightclub/strip
club down near the National hotel.
Dublin pub – Chisinau’s
main Irish pub, and very handy for the Republican Stadium. Not been
there, but heard (a) it’s very small, and (b) it’s notorious
for charging arbitrarily for drinks.
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