There are many strange cultural nuances in Russia, but when you see a ‘Business Lunch’ advertised, you suddenly think things aren’t so different after all. Sorry to disappoint you, but they are. A Russian business lunch has little in common with what we know as a business lunch from North America or Western Europe, except of course the time of day that it is served.
In Western culture – particularly North America – the business lunch is actually a business meeting held over the lunch break. This started as a way for busy managers and executives to fit one more meeting into their daily schedule. This trend peaked in the 80’s with the ‘power lunch‘ and has been declining ever since. On the other hand, the Russian form of the business lunch is alive and strong.
For Russians, having a meeting over lunch would not be very useful, as it is generally considered rude to eat while someone else is speaking with you. That was always going to make a lunch meeting pretty tough. The Russian business lunch is simply a set menu offered over lunch time (12 till 3 usually) that offers a hearty meal at a low low price. The service at the restaurant is geared towards getting people in and out quickly, as the customers need to get back to work and due to the low prices, restaurants are relying on volume to turn a profit. In fact, the business lunch is so popular that the phrase ‘Бизнес ланч’ can now be seen advertised in restaurants all over the city. But what can you expect from your business lunch here in Russia?
The classic business lunch is a wholly Russian affair, with a salad to start followed by a soup (usually borscht) and finished off with a meat patty (AKA cutlet or ‘kutleta’) and potato or buckwheat. Your meal will usually be accompanied by black tea or coffee. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, don’t worry – there are also many non-traditional business lunches on offer. Almost every restaurant in Moscow has some kind of cut price lunch offering and competition is really fierce.Even if you are not on your lunch break, a business lunch is a great way to get a cheap and filling meal – it is possible to find some for as low as 300RUB! Many fine dining establishments have even entered the fray and offer a cut price lunch menu. This is a great way to sample their wares without forking over for the costly dinner menu. There is even a trend towards offering glasses of wine in the set price in more upmarket establishments.
If you know of any great spots for a business lunch here in Moscow, let us know in the comments below or join the conversation on our forums.