MOSCOW — Hold the burger and fries. Pass the pirozhky and pea soup. Moscow has just introduced its very own - ''very Russian'' - fast-food restaurant. The Russkoye Bistro is serving up Romanov pea soup, mushroom- or cabbage-stuffed pirozhky, or pies, and traditional Russian drinks, all for under a dollar, in the midst of McDonald's restaurants springing up all around Moscow.
''Competition with McDonald's?'' scoffed restaurant manager Alexei Bryilovsky on Wednesday, a day after the Russkoye Bistro opened. ''We don't sell burgers or Cokes, our products are natural, so I don't think we're in competition.''
The bistro's menu has a distinctly Russian flavor. ''Mushrooms, sour cream, potatoes - this is our food,'' says student Svetlana Podkovitova. ''I only go to McDonald's as a last resort.''
Mayor Yuri Luzhkov couldn't agree more: ''I don't like McDonald's, and I never go there, except for openings,'' he declared at the bistro's opening.
Luzhkov's administration owns 20 percent of Russkoye Bistro, which plans to open 200 outlets in Moscow in the next two years. Then again, it also owns 51 percent of the Moscow McDonald's, which arrived in 1990 and plans to expand to five restaurants. The three now open are constantly crowded.