Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Blurry Georgian Nights at Tbilisi Cafe & Bakery

A train ride into Bensonhurst led us to the narrow and unassuming Tbilisi Cafe & Bakery where my friend Liz had arranged for a massive Georgian dinner (also known as a Supra) with some of her friends from the Peace Corps. Liz knows how much I love khachapouri, and this is just another step in my plan to eat at every Georgian place in the city (and an excuse to drink).

What follows is an illustration of a proper Supra. 

Initially, I'd like to note that these meals are fueled by alcohol, and due to my inebriation stemming from a strict compliance with the rules of a Supra, my pictures suck (and to be honest, my memory of this dinner is hazy, at best). Shaky, grease-slicked hands make for blurry photos, so I'll use them sparingly. 

Along with multiple shots of honey pepper vodka, we (or, I) alternated between overly sweet Georgian wine, vodka and beer. It's all about variety in consumption. Oh, before I go any further I should note that the two rules for drinking at a Supra are: (1) everyone drinks at the same time; and (2) everyone must finish what's in their glass. I'm proud of myself for not throwing in a Fight Club reference right there. I think it's a sign of maturity. 

A Supra also requires a Tamada, or toastmaster. Liz claims she was the Tamada. Since I don't have the energy to argue with her, I guess I'll let it slide.

We began the meal with a simple salad and badrijani. The thin slices of eggplant stuffed with walnut paste went down well on top of an incendiary shot of honey pepper vodka.

Chicken in walnut sauce may have been my least favorite dish of the night. A cold dish of chicken topped with a somewhat thinner version of the ubiquitous walnut paste was forgettable. If someone in your party orders this dish, dull the memory of it with more vodka and wine. And beans, there were lots of beans.

Khashi, or tripe soup (not pictured), was not my ideal tripe dish-- a little bland, with nothing complementing the tripe besides a bobbing, gelatinous cow's hoof. I took a piece of honeycomb tripe and left the rest alone (as did most everyone else it seemed).

Khinkali, pork filled Georgian soup dumplings, are supposed to be covered with an injudicious amount of ground pepper. While they have less broth than Chinese soup dumplings, they have a much thicker filling. You're supposed to eat everything but the nipple as proof of your dumpling count (and manhood). I also recommend taking a group drink for each dumpling you eat, but strict adherence is not required (or always preferable). These were probably the best khinkali I've eaten in a Georgian restaurant (and Liz claims they're the best she's tried in the States).

Imeruli khachapouri isn't pictured. It was solid, but the cheese (sulguni, a type of farmer's cheese) was a little bland. The crust also looked significantly different than what we'd tried at Pirosmani and Georgian Bread. Meanwhile, adjaruli khachapouri was very good (especially after numerous drinks), but couldn't live up to Pirosmani's fabulous version.

Our pre-entrees finished, next came roast chicken, multiple rounds of pork kabobs and a side of spinach mixed with ground walnuts. The chicken, resting in a sizzling skillet, was overcooked, but had a pungent garlic flavor (and for $8.00 I can hardly complain). Kabobs flew by in a haze. I know I ate some, and I'm pretty sure they were good, but any attempt to describe them at this point would be futile.

Finally, because we couldn't accept that we'd ordered enough already, fried potatoes with mushrooms sprinkled with dill. The fries were underseasoned by themselves, but were vastly improved when soaked in the garlicky chicken juices.

I'm told we got dessert. This is news to me.

I strongly advise you to drink some Borjomi to aid in the digestion of your meal. Trust me. This sparkling mineral water from what I can only assume is the most bucolic part of Georgia is delicious, with a faint sweetness cutting through the carbonation. It also helps dull the effects of all the butter and alcohol you've surely consumed by this point.

The only thing left to do is to down a cup of coffee, have one more shot of vodka for the road, and find your way home. I don't make the rules of a Supra, I just follow them.

Tbilisi Cafe & Bakery
1871 86th Street
Brooklyn, NY 1124


  1. Supra-style eating is the ultimate. My favorite involves nothing but vodka and home-style Russian food for six hours, then an ice-cold Baltika to get one's groove back. The last time I did this, several people ended up inside a shopping cart.

    I am also in for the next trip!