>> [CLOSED] We Are Georgian | Eat the World NYC

31 March 2015

[CLOSED] We Are Georgian


[UPDATE: CLOSED. A new, unrelated restaurant called Royal Garden Tbilisi has taken over this address.]

There is a bit of confusion, and quite a bit of anger, with the naming of this restaurant. Most people walking by would probably think the name of this Kings Highway Georgian restaurant is Brick Oven Bread, a name it would share with two other establishments around town. Unfortunately this seems to be the handy work of the awning maker, who made the decision for the shop owner, who named the restaurant "We Are Georgian." However the menus say it too. I am confused, but the owner said very clearly the real name.

Pizza boxes are stacked high like in a pizzeria, but these are for khachapuri here, which obviously does a swift takeout business. In front of these and some Georgian imported goods, is a refrigerated display with takeout meals and desserts on top. The proprietor of the place, known as "Aunt" will guide you through the process of selection from start to finish, and be thoroughly tickled when you are happy with your meal or any part of the experience. She is proud of her cuisine and very delighted to share it with customers, especially it seems when those customers are not Russian or Georgian.

We went in a different direction this meal than the normal cheesy selections of khachapuri, ordering the lobiani ($7, below), a bean pie with crispy dough and a thin layer of mashed kidney beans.

Traditionally, the beans are boiled with smoked ham to give them a more flavorful taste. A round pie of about 12" is cut into slices and piled up, guaranteeing that a group of three will be quite full after finishing this and their other choices.

One of the most exciting dishes of the evening was the nigvziani badrijani ($8, below), an appetizer. Walnuts, garlic, and plenty of spices imported from Georgia are baked inside of thin eggplant slices. A lone pomegranate seed is inside each piece, creating myriad textures and tastes, each bite a nice pop.

One of my most distinct memories while traveling in Georgian was going to bars full of men eating khinkali and drinking beer, not sure which part of the combination was more important. These men would all have twice the dumplings and twice the beer I would, but I think I was able to enjoy it just as much.

The khinkali ($8.50, below) here are some of the best in New York City, without the intense saltiness that is often found. We even received a short lesson in eating with your hands (duh) after our Ukrainian friend decided to eat his with fork and knife. Amateur.

New to me was the chakapuli ($9, below), a tender lamb stew that gets its green color from herbs and tarragon. Six or so chunks of the meat sit in the hearty stew, which is also fortified with white wine. I am not sure what the bread situation is here, but this would be beautiful paired with some homemade bread fresh from the oven.

Remembering the beautiful satsivi we had at Toné Café in Brighton Beach (also the home of an oven spitting out amazing bread), we asked Aunt for this but were steered to the bazhe chicken ($11, below), a dish oddly listed under salads. The walnut sauce is much less intensely nutty than its friend, not scraped and licked up like we had that night. Each hunk of chicken was welcome though, the bird being left on the bone and wonderfully moist.

For dessert we gazed over at the counter to catalogue our choices. The first that came back was a square slice of what was referred to simply as "ideal cake" by aunt. A quick online search calls this "men's ideal cake" and translates from the Russian muzhskoy ideal. Regardless of the name, caramel butter cream oozes out between layers, a hint of brandy shines through, and walnuts again are used. It is quite a treat.

I am unclear on the prices, but our bill grew by a whopping $4 after the two desserts arrived. A small piece of Armenian cada (below) was our second selection, a crunchy sweet wedge that was much more moist than it appeared. Our table enjoyed every bite of our two desserts, despite being supremely full.


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