If you missed it, I am on a mission to eat authentic dishes from every country in the world, here in my own city of Toronto.
You can find all recaps here. Today I am talking about Georgia!
I’ll be honest. Until I started looking into eating Georgian cuisine I didn’t really know where Georgia was. I don’t even know the area I thought it was. But this is Georgia!
Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is to east of the Black Sea and bordered by Russia, Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.
I had no idea what kind of cuisine I could expect from Georgia, but we kept driving by Georgia Restaurant (also a small banquet hall) at Finch and Dufferin and each time I would be more intrigued. Evan and I looked into it and it promised an authentic Georgian eating experience, so earlier this week we decided to hit it up.
We brought Ian (Evan’s good friend and also our roommate) along for the ride. As many of the restaurants I have visited so far on this mission have been (Max’s, Anna Maria Trattoria, Pho Com Vietnam) Georgia Restaurant is very nondescript from the outside, but the inside is quite beautiful.
More pictures on their website gallery. When we were there it was set up for a big Georgia church group and all the cold food was already out on the table waiting for them. Apparently a big meal like this is called a keipi or supra. It looked delicious and I was ready to just pretend I was a part of it so I could eat everything. We refrained and got our own table though. I noticed that every few places there was a plate of vegetables, typical salad vegetables, only not in salad form. So whole tomatoes, stalks of green onions, full peppers and radishes. I am not sure why they weren’t sliced, and after researching it a bit I am still not sure why. Like do they just eat the tomatoes whole like an apple? I wish I asked our server, who was fantastic and very knowledgeable about Georgian food (though he was Ukrainian!).
It was also quite interesting there when they started playing traditional Georgian music. I liked.
Anyway, the Georgian cuisine is specific to Georgia, but also contains influences from Europe, the Middle East and Western Asia. Each province of Georgia has its own culinary tradition, so the food can vary from province to province. I did some research beforehand so I already had an idea of what we should order, but with the help of our server we selected the most authentic Georgian dishes on the menu.
We started with fresh bread.
Which was delicious, as fresh bread always is. Can’t go wrong there.
Most of the authentic Georgian supra-type items were in the appetizers section, so we just ordered a bunch of appetizers. Starting with Badrijani, eggplants and garlic with a walnut paste, topped with pomegranate seeds, and served cold. This was recommended to us by our server if we really wanted a traditional experience (and we did).
Not my favourite, but not bad. The walnut paste had an almost hummus-like taste. It was definitely different though. I don’t think I have eaten anything similar to that before.
Next we ordered the Satsivi, chicken in walnut sauce (a lot of walnuts happening here), also served cold.
And, interesting that it is served cold. It gave it kind of a chicken leftovers-from-the-fridge taste. I didn’t mind it, but both Evan and Ian vehemently disliked it. And I don’t think I have ever seen Evan eat something he didn’t like, so that is saying something. For Ian I think it was a texture thing, and also because it was served cold, and for Evan he said it gave him a bad aftertaste in his mouth. For me, it was okay. I do think I would have liked it better if it was served hot though.
Our next appetizer totally made up for it though. Khachapuri, which is a golden thin crust filled with a salty cheese. Basically cheese-filled bread.
I knew I was going to love this and I was not let down, I LOVED this. We all loved it. But I mean, bread filled with cheese… You really can’t go wrong there. I was reading that in Georgia they prefer this to pizza.
Next we tried the Khinkali, Georgian dumplings filled with pork and beef.
Our server very helpfully told us that these are traditionally served with coarse black pepper in Georgia, so we went to town with that. The dumplings were delicious, as dumplings always area. I’ve never met a dumpling I didn’t like. They were another favourite here.
I would have been happy with ordering just the khachapuri and the khinkali, honestly. Both were the stand outs, hands down.
Our final dish was the Lobio, Georgian style red beans.
We originally planned on ordering an additional main dish, EACH! And then we got midway through all the appetizers and thought maybe we should just get one main dish to share…and then by the end we were all too full to even think about eating anything else, so it didn’t happen. We’d go back though, for sure.
So that is Georgia! Definitely a different and interesting eating experience, but it was a good one!