Designer Philippe Starck teams up with the Billionaire boys to bring you his third Bon, which worships the New Russian trinity of sex, violence and food. Love it ironically, or love it otherwise — it’s a pleasure to eat under the auspicious gaze of a stuffed owl.
TEXT SONYA RINKUS feedback
Philippe Starck, the world’s leading industrial designer and a self-avowed democratic artist, has taken on the absolutely highbrow (chic hotels in London and Hong Kong) and the absolutely lowbrow (toothbrushes and sippy cups for American superstore Target) with equal respect. The project of Moscow perhaps posed a moral challenge — on one hand, he doesn’t particularly like the city (or didn’t before) for its gross excesses, but on the other he’s friends with the owners of Billionaire, who convinced him to open this third Bon restaurant next door. In the end, he had to be true to his values. The two Paris venues evoke a sense of timeless elegance — Moscow’s is done, admittedly, in the aesthetic of “rich man with no taste.” Essentially, Bon is New Russian camp.
But, if Starck meant to indict Moscow, the joke is on him because the line separating the people enjoying Bon ironically and those enjoying it non-ironically is blurred, or maybe nonexistent. There’s not an open table come evening, and it’s always evening in Bon, which has less natural light than Dracula’s lair, opting instead for gaudy chandeliers and messily melting candles. Pasha Feis Kontrol, the type of club creature that disintegrates in the daylight, dined two tables down from us.
One could spend a full day in Bon examining the mismatched cutlery and furniture, hand-picked by Starck in little French villages, or reading the walls of edgy graffiti. (Said rich man also has schizophrenic graphomania.) I felt a visceral yearning for the stuffed owl in a rhinestone necklace, one of many curios trapped behind a glass case. Each item alone would have been forgettable, but together they make a poster bird of decadence. A lot of to-do has been made in the press, including by us, of the fact that Starck’s sexy Kalashnikov lamps, specially designed for Bon, are available at Room designer furniture store. Prices were kept a secret until the opening of the restaurant, but we are happy to report now, as we did last week, that one lamp to give your room the aura of danger costs 4,200 euro.
Following violence, sex and food round out Bon’s holy trinity of vices. We didn’t see the sex immediately, frescoes partially obscured by an iron eagle-headed throne, so the PR manager helpfully pointed out the genitals.
And, food — they have it. For a man seemingly obsessed with the highest highs and lowest lows, it’s a mystery why Starck decided on mid-range Italian instead of deep-fried Snickers bars or baby seal eyes. The silver screaming skull on the shelf makes sense; reasonably-priced beef carpaccio (600 rubles) does not. On the advice of Chef Fabio Testa, a Bolognese bastion of professionalism, Team element sampled that lovely anomaly, then moved on to warm seafood salad (750 rubles), a curious cheese-less lasagna of shrimp, calamari and zucchini (400 rubles) and dorado with broccoli and tomatoes (700 rubles). For dessert, Testa sent over sorbets of varied flavors (150 rubles a scoop), made on the premises like the complementary bread. Scientifically speaking, cozy Italian cuisine should have repelled from the ultimate consumer item, butter vacuum-sealed with a Bon logo.
Because Starck would have wanted it that way, we indulged in the drinks menu, which is longer than the food menu and, as usual, makes a complete dining experience unaffordable to lowly scribes. Our 2004 Arneis Blange (2,500 rubles), chosen by the sommelier in accordance with the parameters “sparkly” and “white,” was one of the cheapest options. But when we’ve saved up some money, maybe taken out a loan, Team element will return to pre-party at the long glass bar, a Starckian invention that revolutionizes social drinking by making patrons face each other. Yes, unlike the other restaurants we kind of like but can’t be bothered to pursue, we’ll return to Bon, if only to burn our blazing images into Pasha Feis Kontrol’s light-sensitive retina.