Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Leading the Way to Tamada

Tamada is the latest stop in my halfhearted attempt to try every Georgian restaurant in the city.

Steve, who arrived first to an empty restaurant, was eyed skeptically by the owner. To convince him of the seriousness of our cause, Steve said "we're here for Georgian," and then angrily broke two plates with a bottle of Georgian wine (I may have condensed the timeline for the sake of narrative convenience). Oh, speaking of the wine, we purchased a bottle of red, Alaverdi Pirosmani 2005, which was inoffensive, meaning its the best Georgian wine I've tried. And, after one sip of the dry white wine, Tsinandali, I wisely decided to stick with the red. We also purchased the necessary amount of honey pepper vodka (to stimulate our appetites, of course).

A pickle plate which included red cabbage, pickles, tomatoes and garlic, as well as a Georgian salad with cucumber, tomatoes, parsley, lettuce an red onions would be the lightest dishes we'd eat the whole night. Bring on the heavier stuff please.

Badrijani, eggplant stuffed with walnut paste, was a solid but unspectacular rendition.

Something on the menu called "veal roll" piqued our interested. What arrived was a selection of three chilled meats. Thick slices of veal tongue was nectar for tongue lovers, but everyone enjoyed the large slabs of veal and an unidentified cured meat.

Only one khachapuri is listed on the menu, but I managed to negotiate with the waiter (who spoke almost no English) to make us three types: megruli, acharuli, and imeruli. None were spectacular, and when placed head to head against Pirosmani or Georgian Bread, they were disappointing, with the bread having an unappealing, underdone puff pastry quality. Luckily, we were with a bunch of people who'd never eaten Georgian food before, so they weren't nearly as disappointed or picky about it as I was.

Acharuli, normally the crowd pleaser:



Crispy and topped with minced raw garlic and dill, the fries were excellent.

I remember very little about the kinkali, (Georgian soup dumplings) beyond the fact that they were nothing special. And no, that's not because the multiple shots of honey pepper vodka had started to affect me by that point.

The mushroom "casserole" (my term) may have been the best dish of the night. A variety of mushrooms was mixed with a bechamel sauce, topped with cheese and baked. How can that be bad?

The other standouts were the kebabs. Chicken was solid, but the lamb ribs achieved the harmonious balance between caramelized fat and chewy lamb meat. We dipped the meats in a green sauce that the severe waiter (who had loosened up by this point, after seeing how serious we took our eating and drinking) had recommended. It tasted almost exactly like a green tomatillo sauce, which means I'll have to ask around about what it was exactly.

Finally, fish kebabs may have been salmon, but could easily have been swordfish or something else. I won't even venture to guess.

As usual, we left our meal extremely intoxicated and even more full. The only solace was the tall bottle of Borjomi (Georgian mineral water) I chugged on the subway ride home (and after I woke up at 3 AM).

2006 Coney Island Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11223
(716) 676-0506


  1. ah, law and food - you're being taken for a ride. half of the food in this entry in Ukranian. the honey pepper vodka is called Pertsovka. The unidentified meat on the cold plate is Basturma, a dry cured beef with a paste of paprika on it. The french fries with garlic on them are some kind of concoction that is not georgian or russian or ukranian (but i'll bet they taste just swell.). that salad? it's just russian salad. Mushroom casserole? Classic Russian dish - the only Georgian food you ate was the hinkhali, the eggplant, the shashlik and the various chachipurri. and the barjom. the green sauce is tekemali (if that's what they really gave you) which is made from sour plums. but maybe they just gave you some mexican - -this place is not authentic at all. don't worry -the same tricks happen in Moscow.

  2. You should have led the way!

    We were handicapped by not having our Georgian speaker with us. Yeah, the mushroom dish is clearly Russian, but I've seen the fries and salad at every other Georgian restaurant in town. Oh yea, basturma! How could I forget? I was going to mention it tasted a bit like chorizo, which also has paprika. Thanks for the insight!

  3. Hey Law & Food,

    This is Jim K., your lovable Korean from Annie's Jersey Pizza Tour.

    Me and my friends are going to Brighton Beach this Sunday for some swimmin', some tannin' and some good old Uzbeki Lunchin'. Wanna join us?

    Let me know.

  4. Ack, that sucks it wasn't awesome. (And with such lovely photos.) WHY MAKE GEORGIAN FOOD IF IT ISN'T AWESOME. WAAAAIIII

    Anyhoo, we gotta do some food ..stuff...soon..yeah. Or...after I secure an apartment. Yeah.

  5. Anonymous again - I'm a NYC expat living in Moscow (so tough to go eating with all of you), but your appreciation for Georgian food is something I celebrate from across the ocean. My girlfriend is from Tibilisi, and I eat her mother's homemade hachipurri right off the stove. She also makes one that is stuffed with just tarkhun (tarragon) amazing. I'm sorry (and unsurprised) that the Georgian food you guys explore in NYC is a sort of half-copy, lazy, half-authentic version. Honestly, even in Moscow the Georgian food runs along the same "almost good" lines. It's home cooking - maybe the ultimate home cooking. Well, I'd still rather eat a mediocre lobio, or khinkhali than much else...

  6. @Anon Sorry for the late response. I'm very jealous of your ability to get homemade khachapouri. Any chance she has a recipe?

    Yeah, it seems that advertising Georgian food has a certain amount of cachet that Russian doesn't, even in Brooklyn.