Georgia on my mind

Last night I added +1 to the list of local restaurants on my list that I can recommend. It’s localish, at least, the right side of town, and I figure Holloway Road is hardly a destination by itself so I can count it as local. Tbilisi is the location, Georgian the cuisine. Georgian is a new one on, well, pretty much anyone that’s not Georgian I’d imagine, but I can’t imagine why this place isn’t growing and growing exponentially: the food is nothing short of wonderful.

I’d seen Tbilisi for ages, when I worked on the Holloway Road (if all you know of Holloway Road is Joe Meek, it’s not nearly as romantic as you might hope), but never ventured in, but once inside, I wondered why not. All subtle tones in black and red, and quite the sophisticated feel. I’d been recommended platters as starters, so with platters we went, and ended up with a tableful (not quite a Vrisaki meze, but approaching) of small dishes, some spinach with (I think) pomegranate, carrot and walnut, aubergine, some wonderful cheese bread and some fantastic chopped, spiced liver.

This was followed by exactly the kind of dish I love: a thick, gloopy, tomato-y beef stew called Ostri, where the meat is slow-cooked until it falls apart on the fork, and the sauce is so balanced in its spice. It was absolutely, unreservedly delicious, and my companions’ chicken in plum sauce, and lamb with tarragon were equally fantastic. Top that with a chalky, solid Georgian coffee and I have a meal to really rave about.

My guess is that though the denizens of London are more culturally aware than some of our counterparts in the provinces or further afield (I present Evidence A, from Yahoo Answers), most will never have tried Georgian cuisine. And yet it’s such a beautiful selection of flavours, and everything on the menu really suits the British palate, that I’m really surprised it’s not caught on. The mixture of East and West, with flavours reminiscent of Turkish, Lebanese and Balkan food, would really appeal to many. I for one shall be passing on the recommendation to anyone who’ll listen (and via the interweb, a whole bunch of people who won’t), and I heartily recommend you have a look.

Reviews can be found at World Food Blog; Dos Hermanos; Time Out; The World in 202 Meals.

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