I have just returned from another visit to Bulgaria and made many visits to this restaurant during my stay. I am glad to report that standards have not slipped and the restaurant still provides excellent food, service and entertainment. It is now summer and the dining has moved out into the garden complex of covered terraces and garden spaces. It is good to see this establishment survive when many have vanished due to the continuing monetary crisis which has hit most of Europe. It is always a good sign and a testament to the quality of a restaurant when it can ride out the bad times. Having stayed one week and witnessed the mass of returning customers visiting Riverside, I can see that it has not been recession hit.
Friday and Saturday evenings were absolutely jam packed and at time all tables were full (this is a large restaurant and this is quite astonishing in these times!!). These are the busiest times of the week as there is a live band and singers providing traditional entertainment. This is very popular with locals and visitors alike.
During dinner one evening I pondered on why this restaurant was so busy whilst others were near empty. I never really thought of this before. The fact is that when you take a good look at the quality of service, the reason is clear. All cutlery, plates and glasses are spotlessly clean. The food is freshly prepared and is consistently of good quality. Every effort is made behind the scenes to provide a great experience in both dining, ambiance and general presentation.
I witnessed the working of the swimming pool complex at the far end of the garden. The pool is an added compliment during the day and has its own bar. It is a rarity in the area and there is nothing like it nearby.
This establishment gets my thumbs up once again. It is the best I have used both in the area and beyond. Hopefully it will continue to be so!
Favorite Dish: Torn between so many. Tried the calamari this time round and was very pleasantly surprised. Also they do a whole roasted baby goat for special occasions which is fantastic. I had the pleasure of feasting on this with my family (you will need a lot of you to get through this!) This was very tender and melted in your mouth. Everything is freshly prepared and from what I understand is sourced the same day locally.
I revisited the Riverside restaurant in Karavelovo this summer. In fact I spent every single evening of my 4 week holiday enjoying their food and atmosphere. I have a holiday villa close by and it is a Godsend! The restaurant has now opened a beautiful garden area to the rear with it's own bar and facilities. It is in the same rustic style as the main restaurant and it is an amazing place. It looks like it has been there for a century but has only just been finished and opened for the summer. There is also a very substantial swimming pool with a wet bar in a separate walled and gated area behind the garden. This is open during the day and is very popular. There is a charge of 7 leva for adults and 5 leva for children to use the pool, this is valid for the whole day. Drinks and food can be ordered from the pool area all day long.
The garden has large covered terraces to the sides. Seating is available both undercover in the terraces and in the open of the garden. It is a very substantial area and can seat in excess of 250 people. The weekend is a very busy time in the evening as there is live music on Friday and Saturday. The atmosphere and ambiance is fantastic. To have this kind of facility in this town is truly a dream come true. The food is excellent and well priced (it just isn't worth us cooking anymore). During my stay I witnessed many functions including birthday parties and wedding receptions all taking place during the normal working hours of the restaurant. It is a very lively place during peak hours. There really isn't anything like this for miles, which is why I cannot believe it is on my doorstep! Clients come for miles and all directions to eat here. There really is not anything like this unless you go to Sofia or the main tourist sites. For those of us who want to get away from the tourist traps and see how the real Bulgarians live, this is a very pleasant and unexpected delight. Well done Riverside! Please keep up the good work.
Further, there is a small hotel on site just as you enter the entrance to the garden on the left hand side. This was not finished internally as yet during my visit. I was informed that it will open before Christmas. The style and decor is in keeping with the restaurant and gardens. It is rustic in appearance and style but will have modern quality fittings. I am told it will have 4 double en-suite rooms for rent.
If you are in the area you will not be let down by what is on offer here. I can guarantee that you will want to come back again and again. Enjoy!
Favorite Dish: I have so many now so it is hard to choose only one. I have an addiction for the tripe soup but only from Riverside. It is not the same in other restaurants. It is the last thing that I would normally eat. The taste is very addictive. Spicy but not too spicy, tasty very tasty. I crave it now as I sit writing this review back in the UK!
The area around Karlovo and Sopot has suffered in recent years with a very distinct lack of decent quality restaurants. This has now been remedied with the opening of ‘River Side’ restaurant in Karavelovo on the 8th of April 2010. This is a very high specification establishment and was launched to provide the very best dining experience in the area. It boasts a large seating capacity of 150 and is beautifully appointed. The food is excellent in quality and the restaurant excels in all aspects. The décor captures the essence of traditional Bulgaria whilst giving it a modern twist. Prices are very reasonable indeed and the establishment strives to provide a good value for money varied menu. Following media interest and coverage, ‘River Side’ has received wide acclaim with excellent reviews heralding it as the ‘the number 1 location for fine dining and entertainment’. Many diners converge from a wide area to visit the restaurant. Peak times are Friday and Saturday evenings when it is best to arrive early or to make a reservation. The restaurant is located at 122 Georgi Dimitrov, Karavelovo. Telephone 0894710375/0894711307. Opening hours are 09.00 till 24.00 officially, but it does stay open well into the morning at weekends and peak times. The restaurant can be reached from Sopot taking the the main road to Sofia and taking the left turn signposted Karavelovo just after Anevo. When you reach Bogdan turn left and the restaurant is on the left hand side once you have entered the town of Karavelovo. It is well worth the trip! The bar stocks every drink imaginable, and you are sure to get a very warm welcome.
Just a quick update. I revisited this restaurant very frequently during my 4 week visit to the area this August 2010 and I can report that the quality has not gone down since the opening. Having experienced other restaurants going down hill after a few months of opening, I was very pleased indeed that this has not happened with Riverside. They have also extended the menu to included pasta and seafood dishes (the calamari and mussels are excellent). I talked with the owner a number of times during my numerous visits. There are plans to expand the site to form a complex with a small hotel (4 rooms with ensuites) and chalets, large swimming pool and extensive gardens with outside bars and terraces. The work started whilst I was there and all should be operational by next April 2011. If they put the same attention to detail and care into the hotel and gardens, this complex will far surpass anything for miles around. It can't come soon enough!!!
Favorite Dish: My favourite dish is the chicken Satch. It comes on a sizzling platter and is a mixture of chicken and vegetables. I have had this in other restaurants throughout Bulgaria but they tend to fill it out with more cheap veg and overload with onions. The Satch at River Side is full of meat which is how I like it. I also love their Chocolate Mousse which is to die for. It is homemade and is like nothing I have ever tasted. A must for all chocoholics.
One of my observations during my travels around Bulgaria is that there seems to be very few places where you can go just to have a few drinks. Even places that look like they should be pubs, with proper bars and barstools etc, often turn out to be restaurants and you do get some funny looks if you just sit and knock back half-a-dozen beers.
Here in Karlovo I was actually looking for lunch when I spotted this place on the main 20th July Square. The sign above the door definitely said "Restaurant Karlovo" and on a sleety January afternoon (about 3 pm) looked warm, busy and inviting.
So in I went, sat down and asked for a menu. This got me a funny look but a menu was duly produced. Yep, you guessed it - the menu was a drinks menu and the only thing resembling food was a short section of cakes and ice-creams.
Ach well, such is life and a couple of golyama Kamanitza's made for a liquid lunch substitute (and crossed legs all the way back on the bus to Plovdiv).
Having spent a chilly January morning wandering the town a hot soup was the order of the day for lunch and this little cafe turned out to be more than up to the task. Situated on the market square this is very much a locals place with only three little formica tables inside and one plastic one outside. Everything is cheap and cheerful with the simple menu offering a couple of soups, meatballs, sausages and a couple of other bits and bobs of a similar nature.
The two women running the place (one cooking, one serving) were cheerily dispatching both eat-in and take-away lunches to a constant stream of various customers - workmen grabbing a quick bite, market shoppers taking a break, a couple of pensioners coming in for what would probably have been their main meal of the day and us hungry tourists who couldn't find anywhere else open.
Favorite Dish: Well it had to be the local's favourite - the tripe soup. A little bit thinner than I would have made it but tasty with plenty of meaty chunks (if you can describe tripe as "meaty") and at one lev per serving and the bread at a few stotinki certainly one of the cheapest lunches I've eaten - even though the accompanying bottle of Zagorka doubled the cost ;)
If any of you may ever go to Karlovo, then he must go to Simonas' Pub, at the edge of the town, on the road from Plovdiv to Sofia. Good beer, good food, good music, nice people, warm atmosphere and low prices. A great place. Simona owes me a beer for this! Well, I'm joking!
But it is true: the pub is a great place and Karlovo is a surprising town.
Try it on the occasion. And after dinner they will move aside the tables to make room for dancing. Great and amazing.
Favorite Dish: Local cuisine, good beer, friendly people