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