Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Georgian: fast Mexikanisch

My friend Sam came all the way from Barcelona to eat Georgian food with me. I recently ate Georgian food with her in both Estonia and Latvia, so I think it's become a thing for us. Our guidebook in the Baltics claimed that Georgian food is to former Soviet states what Mexican food is in the US or Indian food is in India. I suppose you could take issue with that on some level, but the point is, it's the interesting, flavorful thing people go out for dinner for when they are tired of borscht and pelmeni. With that theory, you might expect Berlin's Georgian restaurants to be located in the former East and maybe they once were, but today they seem to be concentrated (well, all both of them that I could find) in West Berlin's Charlottenburg. To be honest, we picked Genazvale rather than Mimino because it was slightly closer to the U-Bahn station and we were starving, having walked allllllll the way from Schoeneberg stopping only to sample the local beer at my local bar and then to use the bathroom at the KaDeWe where I remembered that I had a couple coupons for free champagne in my wallet. Sam and I are good walkers - we did The Camino in Spain together a few years back - but after a few afternoon drinks, we were very ready for our khachapuri. The restaurant was pretty full, but we were given a table near the front. While we were still examining the menus, the waitress came over and asked if we would mind moving to a neighboring table. No big deal, we happily moved, and went on examining the menu and admiring the bottles of wine lining the walls that are dressed as little Georgian soldiers complete with fur hats. Another waitress came over and apologized profusely that we had had to move tables and announced that the wine was on the house. It's true that Georgian wine isn't usually great, but still - this kind of thing almost never happens in Berlin and I give them big points for going above and beyond. The food was very good if not quite life-changing. We ordered the "boat-shaped" khachapuri with cheese and an egg. It's hard to find something bad to say about fresh baked goods with melted cheese and runny yolk. We ordered an herb salad that turned out to be mostly a plate of parsley, which was actually a very good counterpart to the rich cheesiness of the khachapuri. Having let so many weeks go by, I am a little fuzzy on the details of the rest of our meal, but I know there was eggplant in yogurt sauce and roast chicken with garlic-walnut sauce. Both were good, but somehow not quite what we had expected based on the menu descriptions. For dessert we shared Thathara, a grape pudding, which was a little bit interesting, but was really grape juice and cornstarch. Not awful, but not something you need to try before you die either. Genazvale might not change your life, but order the khachapuri with cheese and egg when you're feeling indulgent (or starving). If you're lucky, they'll give you a liter of wine for almost no reason at all and I bet you'll have a pretty good night. Genazvale Windscheidstra├če 14

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