One fine April evening, buoyed by increasing spring warmth and sunshine, we set out in an upbeat mood for the restaurant Bread House (Puris Sakhli in Georgian). Even the menu had “Spring” inscribed on the cover, but celebration of the season ended there. Our first disappointment came when we realized the “Spring” menu did not include Chakapuli – one of the most popular dishes of the season, made with lamb chops, onions, dry white wine, tarragon leaves, tkemali sauce (plum sauce), mixed fresh herbs (parsley, mint, dill, cilantro), garlic and salt.
As a starter, we ordered a simple green salad (GEL 8) – a mix of lettuce leaves, slices of lemon, whole black olives and thinly-cut cucumber. Before the salad was served, we had already started sipping Goruli Mtsvane from the Chateau Mukhrani winery. The salad arrived just in time to complement the wine perfectly.
Salmon Soup (GEL 15) was served next. Our attention was immediately drawn to the excessive use of allspice, dill and carrot in a fatty broth. The salmon itself was overcooked and very soft, but the broth was tasty and its sourness proved appealing.
Vegetable Barbecue (GEL 8) followed. We helped ourselves first to the tomato, savoring its open-fire roasted fragrance and taste. Roasted red and green Bulgarian peppers, mushrooms and eggplant were all tasty as well.
Meat Dolma in Grape Leaves (GEL 13.50) was very disappointing. Accompanied with a Georgian yogurt and garlic gravy, the meat left such an unpleasant taste that one might suspect that it was not fresh. Pork Shashlyk (GEL 11) was unappetizing as well – burnt, tough meat amounting to little more than coal and bone and reflecting an obvious decline in the quality of shashlyk evident in Georgian restaurants recently.
Barbequed Quail (GEL 6.50) was good, well suited to Saperavi of Telavis Marani, even adding a piquant taste to the wine.
Assorted Cheese (GEL 14) was another failure. Actually, a plate with six pieces of three types of cheese (Imeretian, suluguni and smoked) hardly qualifies as an “assorted” dish.
As for the wine, in addition to Chateu Mukhrani’s Goruli Mtsvane, we also tried Samshvenisi from the Teliani Valley cellar. Although the former was much better, Samshvenisi proved to be a good accompaniment with the Dolma and Vegetable Barbecue. The restaurant wine list is quite limited. There are several popular wines of the two large wineries, as well as Usakhelauri and Bio-Saperavi [organic Saperavi]. Sparkling wine is only from Teliani Valley winery. Yet, the restaurant has Dom Pérignon for GEL 480 a bottle and Moët & Chandon for GEL 180. That’s it.
One could also say a few words about the prices of the dishes, but that seems to be another unfortunate tendency in Georgian restaurants these days.
Address: 7 Gorgasali Street
Hours: Daily, from 12:00 to 02:00
Bank cards: Accepted
Price: GEL 100-150 (Dinner for two including wine and gratuity)
Parking: On street outside restaurant
E-mail: [email protected]
This article first appeared in Tabula Georgian Issue # 98, published 30 April 2012.