I love everything to do with Gruzbek: the Uzbek food they serve, the Eastern decor, the selection and volume of music, the fancy plates they serve the food on. I have been here several times, either at lunch or for an early middle of the week dinner, and have been able to enjoy a delicious meal in a peaceful ambiance and a "smoke-free environment" each time. (Gruzbek allows smoking, but they have rooftop seating with a nice view of the river and a few canvas privacy cabanas, or you can eat dinner before the smokers arrive.) They usually find a waiter or waitress who speaks some English to help at your table, but they have a large menu written in three languages with large color photos to help you select your dishes. The restaurant is housed in a historic old building and decorated with traditional costumes, hats, shoes, rugs, pillows and other assessories imported from Uzbekistan. The owner and the four chefs are all Uzbek, so the food is genuine and it's one of the few places where you can eat lamb in Georgia. They also have belly-dancers who perform every night except Monday. They are open every day 11:00 am - 12:30 am. They have a wonderful page on FaceBook--just look for Gruzbek Uzbekuri Restorani. https://www.facebook.com/GruzbekUzbekuriRestorani/app_570220509659921#!/GruzbekUzbekuriRestorani.
Favorite Dish: I like to take people here who may be tired of Georgian food and are interested in trying dishes they have never had before. I always order Plov (pilaf) Gruzbek, Kovurma-Lagman (hand-made noodles), Navruz salad (lettuce with tomatoes, cucumbers and cheese), Chuchvara (small chrispy dumplings), Manta (boiled dumplings with sour cream on the side) and Non (round bread). If you want lamb, make sure you ask for it, otherwise you might just get beef. Both the plov and the lagman noodles have a nice mild flavor that is slightly sweet, and the manta reminds me of
I ate in 2 places whilst in Tbilisi
The first was called Cherry Garden on Baratashvilis Qucha street. I had a water, local beer and chicken in cheese sauce, all for 18.50 Lari, £7.
It has a nice outdoor setting with mini marqee areas to sit, next to a busy road
I also ate on Shalva Dadiani street, just off freedom sqaure in an underground type place that did great dumplings (x5), 2 beers and crab salad for 10 Lari £4). Great value although the service wasnt great.
We visited Mirzaani Restaurant and Brewery a couple of times during our stay in Tbilisi in February 2013.
There are half a dozen Mirzaani outlets in the city; we visited the one at 1 Gorgasali Street (on the corner of Meidan square) on both occasions. The other locations are listed on Mirzaani's website.
This branch of Mirzaani is open 24 hours a day (perhaps the others are too?), so was ideal for a late night meal and a few drinks after we had visited the nearby hot sulphur baths.
The restaurant has two subterranean dining areas, with bare brick walls, wooden benches and tables and large screen TVs showing live sporting action. On our first visit, the highlights of an English FA Cup game between Huddersfield and Wigan were showing, followed by live coverage of the Manchester United v Reading cup tie. I was pleased by this. Emma less so!
We walked through the first room (which seemed a little cold) and sat ourselves in the second room which was busier, more atmospheric and contained the bar area. Unfortunately, as we realised later, it was also very smoky. We could smell the smoke on our clothes the following morning, bringing back bad memories of the days before the UK introduced its smoking ban in pubs and restaurants.
Before looking at the food menu, I spent a while deciding which beer to try. Mirzaani brews several beers on site, including wheat beer (2.60 GEL per 500ml), barley beer (1.80 GEL), smoked beer (2.30 GEL) and black beer (3.20 GEL). I wanted to sample the smoked beer, but unfortunately this wasn't available on our visit, so I had a couple of wheat beers instead. Great value at 2.60 GEL (£1.05) for 500ml of freshly brewed beer.
Emma had a "lemonade" produced by the Zedazeni brewery. At this stage, we hadn't learnt that the term lemonade on Georgian food menus is often a capture all for various flavoured soft drinks. This one turned out to be a rather tasty vanilla flavoured lemonade and cost 1.90 GEL (£0.75) for a 500ml bottle.
The food menu was extensive and included a variety of appetisers, snacks and more substantial meals. There were various khinkali dumplings to choose from, khachapuri breads, soups, fish dishes (particularly trout) and various chicken, pork and veal dishes. There were plenty of options for vegetarians too; for example mushrooms with sulguni cheese, potatoes, eggplant, various vegetables in walnut sauce and lots of breads.
We decided to share a selection of dishes and to sample a few local dishes that we hadn't tried before:
Lobiani (Bean Cake) - 4.80 GEL / £1.90 for a large portion for two people.
We weren't quite sure what this would be, but it was listed under the bread section of the menu. It turned out to be a large portion of flat bread, similar to a khachapuri, similar in appearance to a pizza base and filled with a paste version of the popular lobio bean stew. It was tasty and filling.
Cauliflower with Walnut Sauce - 6.50 GEL / £2.60
A dish containing a cold walnut sauce and several pieces of cauliflower. It had a similar texture to hummus and was ideal for dipping the lobiani into. I wasn't overly keen on it; it would have been nicer if the sauce was hot.
Shkmeruli - 9.00 GEL / £3.60
This was one Georgian dish that I was particularly keen to try. It consisted of 4 pieces of chicken on the bone in a strong garlic sauce with herbs and spices. Although the chicken wasn't the best, the dish overall was very tasty.
On our second visit to Mirzaani we had already eaten earlier in the evening and were there for a jug of wine and some cheese. We sat in the other room, hoping it would be less smoky, but it wasn't.
We had seen the remarkably cheap wine on the menu on our previous visit and were keen to see how it tasted.
The cheapest wines of all were the draft house wines. The white Rkatsiteli (which was actually pink when we ordered it at another restaurant in Tbilisi) was just 4.50 GEL (£1.80) a litre, while the red Saperavi was only slightly more expensive at 6.50 GEL (£2.60) a litre. We went for the draft Saperavi. There were lots of more expensive bottled Georgian wines available, ranging in price from 9.00 GEL to 60.00 GEL, with many in the 10.00 to 20.00 GEL (£4.00 to £8.00) range – still excellent value.
The draft Saperavi was surprisingly good (and strong!) for the price.
To accompany the wine, we ordered the assorted cheeses (7.50 GEL / £3.00), which consisted of 9 slices of cheese; 3 slices each of two different white salty cheeses and the nice smoky sulguni cheese.
On both occasions, there was a 10% service charge added onto our bill. This is common practice in Tbilisi's restaurants.
English language menus are available and all the staff we encountered could speak English to at least a reasonable standard.
Good value Georgian dishes, freshly brewed beer and incredibly cheap wine....available 24 hours a day! Recommended! It's just a shame that the atmosphere is a little smoky.
If you want something more American, British, Irish or Italian, or if you want to catch a major football or rugby game live on a wide-screen TV in a pub setting, this is a good place to go. I went around Christmas time for a Sunday brunch. My husband had something like Texas Chili, which he thought was "really pretty good." I had a hamburger and fries with real ketchup, which I thought was really pretty good. The pub is divided into two parts: the bar area and a dining area, but it's a small establishment. It also has outdoor seating. The menu was humorous as you can see in the picture. It is open 11:00 AM to late, and opens early for Sunday Brunches at 10:30 AM. Like all Irish Pubs, they have a large celebration for St. Patrick's Day, and a few other parties on other days, like Halloween. Enjoy!
Emma and I went for a drink at Old Metekhi on the final evening of our visit to Tbilisi in February 2013.
I had been keen to visit this restaurant, mainly because of its dramatic location clinging perilously to the edge of a cliff, overlooking the Mtkvari River, in the city's Avlabari district. I'd read about it online before our visit, and we had marvelled at its incredible location from the vantage point of Nariqala Fortress.
When we arrived in the middle of the evening the restaurant was empty. A handful of staff were milling around the large dining area and a female singer was serenading the empty tables. A couple of staff greeted us with smiles, but after learning that we were there only for drinks and wouldn't be eating they seemed to become a little dismissive of us. Despite the restaurant being empty, and no tables having reserved signs on them, the staff insisted that we sit at a table for 2 in the centre of the room rather than a table for 4 by the window. It seemed a bit petty, but we sat where we were told. To be honest, the view wasn't as good as we expected it to be anyway; there was a good view of Nariqala Fortress lit up, but other than that it was pretty much darkness. We'd enjoyed a much better view from Cafe Flowers earlier that evening, when we had been able to sit by the window and look out over Rike Park, Peace Bridge and the Old Town, as well as Nariqala Fortress and the TV Tower lit up on top of Mount Mtatsminda. I'd imagine the view from Old Metekhi is better during daylight when you could look out over the river (if they let you sit by the window!).
Despite not intending to eat, we had a flick through the food menu. The usual Georgian staples (khinkali dumplings, khachapuris and lobio bean stew) were all reasonably priced, but many of the main courses were significantly more expensive than we had been used to paying in Tbilisi.
We decided to share a bottle of wine and opted for the house white wine: "Old Metekhi" (White) which was a reasonable 12.00 GEL (£4.80) for a 750ml bottle. Despite being classed as a white wine, it was nearer to rose in colour, and was similar to a Rkatsiteli wine that we had enjoyed elsewhere during our time in Tbilisi.
As is usually the case in Tbilisi, a 10% service charge was automatically added to our bill. We didn't feel the urge to tip anything on top of that.
Old Metekhi – spectacular location, but we wouldn't rush back.
We only discovered Cafe Flowers on the final day of our stay in Tbilisi in February 2013. This is a shame, because it is close to the hotel that we were staying in and it is a pleasant cafe offering some of the best views in the city.
The cafe has a nice garden area and a small strip of balcony with tables overlooking Rike Park, Peace Bridge, the lower station of the cable car, Tbilisi's old town and across to Nariqala Fortress and Mount Mtatsminda. It would be a lovely place to sit outside on a sunny summer's day.
Unfortunately, we visited on a cold February afternoon, so we had to sit inside. Thankfully, the cafe has a nice plant and flower-filled annex on the back with large windows overlooking the city so we were able to sit in there and not miss out on those fabulous views. We also timed our visit perfectly. We caught the last of the afternoon sunlight and watched the city light up as darkness fell. Tbilisi looks amazing when lit up at night!
We'd already eaten that afternoon, so we were only there for drinks....but then we read the dessert section and we couldn't resist!
We both ordered the same:
Fried Ice Cream with Popcorn - Cost: 6.00 GEL / £2.40
We were both curious as to how fried ice cream would look (and taste!). It consisted of a large ball of ice cream enclosed in a sweet batter with a breadcrumb texture. I'm not sure where the popcorn was – perhaps it was part of the batter? There was a raspberry in the centre of the ice cream.
Natakhtari "Lemonade" - Cost: 2.00 GEL / £0.80 per bottle
We were well aware by this stage of our trip that the term "lemonade" on a Georgian menu could in fact mean any flavour of soft drink....and usually not lemon! It was always a bit of a lottery as to what flavour we'd actually receive. On this occasion, one of the bottles was an illuminous green colour and was tarragon flavoured, while the other bottle was a dark red Saperavi grape flavoured drink.
We wish we had discovered Cafe Flowers earlier on in our stay. As well as the desserts, the cafe offers a full selection of Georgian and international options; salads, soups, meat dishes, khachapuris...
As is standard practice in Tbilisi, a 10% service charge was automatically added to our bill.
Good value and unbeatable views....we wish we had discovered Cafe Flowers earlier! Highly recommended!
We ate at Restaurant Alani late one evening in February 2013 after having a soak in the nearby hot sulphur baths.
This Ossetian restaurant (Ossetian cuisine is pretty similar to Georgian as far as my untrained eyes could tell) is located underground, on Gorgasali, between the hot sulphur bath complexes and Meidan Square.
We descended into the basement and found the familiar smoky atmosphere, bare brick walls and dark wooden furniture that we've encountered in cellar restaurants throughout eastern Europe. Unlike many of those restaurants, this one had a live band playing. A middle aged group of men provided a loud soundtrack that consisted mainly of Georgian music (I guess!), interspersed with more recognisable songs such as Gangnam Style and quite possibly the worst rendition of the Bee Gees' "How Deep is Your Love?" that I have ever heard!
It all made for a very noisy, conversation-drowning atmosphere. The restaurant was bustling; there were two or three large parties occupying the larger tables and quite a few of them were dancing on an impromptu dance floor between their tables.
The menu featured a familiar looking selection of dishes; khinkali dumplings, khachapuris, lobiani, grilled meats, veal, shkmeruli, ostri, shashlik. They may have been Ossetian variations, but to all intents and purposes they sounded the same as the Georgian dishes we'd been eating all week.
The menu was translated into English, but it was still a struggle to place our order. The problem was that, while the English translations were large enough to read, the Georgian script beneath was very small, so the waiter had difficulty reading it in the dimly lit room. It was further complicated by the fact that certain dishes didn't seem to be available (we were told that there were no khinkali dumplings available, but we saw them on other tables) and the loud music meant that we couldn't speak very clearly with the waiter.
We eventually managed to place our order. We started by sharing:
Aubergine in walnut sauce - Cost: 5.00 GEL / £2.00
A cold dish with 5 slices of aubergine smothered in walnut sauce and topped with pomegranate seeds.
We also shared a large basket of Georgian bread which, according to the receipt, we were only charged 1.00 GEL (£0.40) for. It was superb value for money.
I opted for:
Ossetian Khachapuri - Cost: 6.00 GEL / £2.40
Being in an Ossetian restaurant, I felt obliged to sample the Ossetian version of the khachapuris that I had become so fond of during our stay in Tbilisi. Once again, I was presented with an overwhelming portion of the stuff; 8 slices of flat bread stuffed with melted cheese and shredded potato. It was very nice, and was filling enough to constitute a main course in its own right.
Emma opted for:
Braised Veal - Cost: 8.00 GEL / £3.20
A bowl filled with veal in a meaty sauce and topped with herbs. The meat looked much too fatty for my liking, but Emma ate as much of it as she could. The meaty sauce was ideal for dipping the warm Georgian bread into.
To drink, we shared a bottle of wine:
Teliani Valley (Teluri Evropuli) - Cost: 10.00 GEL / £4.00 for a 750ml bottle
A nice Georgian dry white wine and remarkably good value for money.
I also had:
Alani beer - Cost: 2.00 GEL / £0.80 for 500ml
Brewed on site and much smoother than most of the beer that I drank in Georgia. This was probably the best beer I had in Tbilisi (or at least on a par with the wheat beer at Mirzaani Restaurant & Brewery!).
As usual in Tbilisi, a 10% service charge was automatically added to the bill.
Good value Ossetian cuisine, Georgian wine and fabulous beer. If only they'd turn the music down a bit! Recommended!
We ate at Dukani Mukhambazi one evening during our stay in Tbilisi in February 2013.
This subterranean restaurant is located on Leselidze Street, just a few minutes walk from Tavisuplebis Moedani (Freedom Square).
The restaurant has a large, dimly-lit dining area with bare brick walls and dark wooden benches and tables. It had a similar atmosphere to many of the cellar restaurants that we've eaten at in eastern Europe.
The menu consists of an extensive choice of good value Georgian dishes; various khinkali dumplings, several types of khachapuri, salads, pickles, vegetables in sauces, lobio bean stew, lamb, veal, pork, ostri (meat in tomato sauce), mushrooms, cheeses and various breads.
We decided to share a selection of dishes:
Stewed Mushrooms - Cost: 4.00 GEL / £1.60
A bowl of stewed mushrooms mixed with coriander, garlic, herbs and spices. They were tastier than I expected them to be.
French Fries - Cost: 4.00 GEL / £1.60
A large plate of thin and fairly greasy French Fries. We ordered a couple of sauces to go with them; tomato and herb sauce and Tkemali- a sweet Georgian plum sauce. Each of the sauces cost 0.50 GEL (£0.20) per dish.
5 x Mushroom-filled Khinkali - Cost: 0.50 GEL / £0.20 each
There was a good choice of khinkali at Dukani Mukhambazi. As well as the meat and broth variety that we had already tried several times, there were khinkali filled with mushrooms, cheese and potato. They had to be ordered in a minimum quantity of 5 dumplings. The mushroom ones were delicious – they were filled with a similar mixture of mushrooms, coriander and herbs as the stewed mushroom dish we had.
Megrelian Khachapuri - Cost: 7.00 GEL / £2.80 each
As with the khinkali, there was a good choice of khachapuris on the menu here, including Imeretian, Lobiani (with bean paste) and Adjarian (same as Acharuli; topped with a runny egg and melted butter). We opted for the Megrelian variety, which was both filled and topped with melted cheese and was similar to a pizza. As ever, it was very filling and we had learnt by this point that khachapuris are for sharing and not to be tackled alone!
To drink, I had:
Georgian Herzog beer - Cost: 1.50 GEL / £0.60 for 500ml
Kazbegi and Natakhtari lemonades - Cost: 1.50 GEL / £0.60 per bottle
We had learnt by this stage that "lemonade" on a Georgian restaurant menu could mean any flavour of soft drink, and usually not lemon! On this occasion, the first bottle was pear flavoured and the second bottle was cream soda flavoured.
Although the food was nice, and very good value, the standard of service left a lot to be desired. Having given us the menus, nobody came to take our order for a long while. When Emma went to the bar to place our order, she found the young staff sitting around playing with their mobile phones. After nobody came to clear our plates or bring our bill, we got up and paid on the way out. As is pretty standard in Tbilisi's restaurants, a 10% service charge was automatically added to our bill. This was the only occasion where I didn't think it was particularly warranted, but we paid it nonetheless.
An extensive choice of good value Georgian dishes in a cellar restaurant near Freedom Square. Nice food, but service standards could certainly be improved.
We ate at Samikitno one evening during our stay in Tbilisi in February 2013.
At that time, there were 4 branches of Samikitno in the city; we ate at the one on Meidan Square.
The Meidan Square branch of Samikitno has excellent views over the square and out towards Metekhi Church on the opposite side of the river. You can also watch the cable cars going overhead as they transport passengers between Rike Park and Nariqala Fortress.
It is a large and informal place and it is open 24 hours a day. It was bustling when we arrived, but we managed to find a small table that was vacant.
At first we were given a Georgian language menu. We couldn't understand a word of it, but it was a big glossy menu with lots of colourful photos of the dishes on it, so we could have got by with pointing at the khachapuris and khinkali dumplings if need be. However, when we asked the waiter for an English language menu, one was promptly provided.
The choice of Georgian cuisine at Samikitno is very extensive and includes all the staples that you'd expect; salads, soups, dumplings, breads, barbecued meats, kebabs, fish, cheeses and various vegetarian options featuring aubergine, beans, walnuts and green vegetables. The prices are very reasonable too.
We started by sharing:
4 x khinkali dumplings - 0.70 GEL (£0.28) each
We ordered the mushroom filled khinkali, but something must have got lost in translation as the khinkali we received were filled with minced beef, onions and a meaty broth. This wasn't a problem for us (as we're not vegetarians), but would be a problem for others. They were very nice and tasty.
I then had:
Khachapuri Acharuli - 6.80 GEL (£2.70)
This was a variety of khachapuri that I had been particularly keen to try since reading about the various different forms of this Georgian bread. The "Acharuli" is boat shaped, filled with melted cheese and topped with a runny egg and melted butter. It was very nice, albeit a little stodgy and filling.
Emma opted for:
Khachapuri Ossetian - 7.90 GEL (£3.15)
A similar shaped khachapuri to mine, but filled instead with cheese and potato.
To drink, we shared a jug of draught wine:
Rkatsiteli wine - 6.00 GEL (£2.40) for 1.5 litres
Ridiculously good value for a large jug of wine. Although it was listed under the white wine section, it actually had a similar colour to brandy. It was also much stronger than we initially thought. The draught red wine, Saperavi, was only slightly more expensive at 10 GEL (£4.00) for 1.5 litres.
As is standard in Tbilisi's restaurants, a 10% service charge was automatically added to the bill.
A huge choice of Georgian dishes at very reasonable prices...and open 24 hours a day. Recommended!
We ate lunch at Bar Georgia one afternoon during our visit to Tbilisi in February 2013.
This small bar and restaurant, with a menu including the Georgian staples of khinkali dumplings, khachapuris and lobio bean stew, is located on Erekle II Street, just a short walk from the Rezo Gabriadze Clock Tower in Tbilisi's old town.
The dining area was small and cosy, with comfortable sofas to sit on and colourful artwork on the walls. I believe there may have been more tables downstairs (there were only a couple of tables in the bar area where we were), but as we were the only diners at the time we sat in the bar area.
The menu was fully translated into English and contained all the Georgian dishes that we were now becoming familiar with. The prices were a little more expensive than anywhere else we'd eaten in Tbilisi and a 15% service charge was automatically applied to the bill (10% was the standard service charge in Tbilisi).
I opted for:
Lobio (bean stew) - 8.80 GEL / £3.50
As usual, this delicious bean stew was served in a clay pot. It was still sizzling and bubbling as it arrived at our table and was placed in front of me. It was piping hot. The top part of the stew had a similar consistency to soup, but the further down the pot I got the thicker it became until it became similar in consistency to chilli con carne. It was very tasty (the coriander was very evident), a little spicy and, as always, I enjoyed dipping pieces of Georgian bread into the pot.
Emma opted for:
Mushrooms with Sulguni Cheese - 10.80 GEL / £4.30
A plate of mushrooms filled with melted Sulguni cheese. They too were served piping hot and were enjoyable, but I thought they were a little expensive compared to other meals that we enjoyed in Tbilisi.
Georgian bread - 2.00 GEL / £0.80
A basket with four pieces of warm, flat Georgian bread. Always enjoyable and always good value for money. Georgian bread is an essential accompaniment when ordering lobio bean stew!
To drink, I opted for:
Natakhtari beer - 3.00 GEL / £1.20
A refreshing Georgian beer served in an "I Love Georgia" mug with a frosted interior to keep the beer cold.
Emma opted for:
Zedazeni lemonade (vanilla flavour) - 2.50 GEL / £1.00
We had started to learn that "lemonade" on a Georgian restaurant menu could actually mean any flavour of soft drink (apple, pear, peach, Saperavi grape, tarragon...). This one was vanilla flavoured.
Tasty Georgian dishes in comfortable surroundings in the old town. A little more expensive than average, but still cheap by western standards.
During our visit to Tbilisi's Mtatsminda Park in February 2013, we ate at the park's Imeruli Ezo restaurant.
The restaurant takes the form of a small wooden village. I'd imagine it's a nice place to sit outside in the summer months. However, on this cold February day (even colder considering Mtatsminda Park is on top of a mountain!) we were happy to sit inside and eat. We ordered our meals from one wooden hut and then made our way inside another wooden hut, where we found a very welcoming open fire roaring away.
We sat right beside the fire, at a chunky wooden table, on seats produced from felled logs. It was a nice cosy atmosphere and we had it to ourselves for most of our meal.
Imeruli Ezo offered a good value lunch menu with meals costing between 3.50 GEL and 5.00 GEL (£1.40 and £2.00). Choices included meatballs in Georgian sauce, beef in tomato sauce, meatballs with potato puree, cooked eggplants with potato puree, steamed beans in clay pot, fried chicken leg with potato puree and chicken fillet in tomato sauce.
It was an easy choice for me. I ordered the steamed beans in clay pot (a.k.a. lobio; a delicious Georgian bean stew that I had become very fond of during our stay in Tbilisi) at a cost of just 3.50 GEL (£1.40).
It came in a large clay pot and was served piping hot. Although it wasn't as spicy as the lobio that I had in other restaurants, it was still very tasty. It was topped with lots of coriander and diced onions and came with an accompaniment of pickled green tomatoes and pickled herbs that I didn't recognise.
With our meals, we got a complimentary basket of Georgian bread (2 large pieces of flat bread) which was ideal for dipping into the lobio.
Emma opted for the cooked eggplants with potato puree which also cost 3.50 GEL (£1.40). She received a large plate that was half filled with eggplant in a sauce and half filled with mashed potatoes. The eggplant was surprisingly cold, but the potato was piping hot. It was topped with coriander, onions and tomato. Emma enjoyed it a lot.
I had a 400ml draught Natakhtari beer (2.50 GEL / £1.00) and Emma had a can of Fanta Tropical (2.00 GEL / £0.80).
As we enjoyed our meal, the waitress came and added more logs to the fire. We watched as she built the fire up and it started to roar again. I took note of how she had built such an effective fire so that I could improve my technique when using our wood burner at home.
A 10% service charge was added to the bill (as it usually is in Tbilisi), but the food was such good value that the 10% tip (a little over 1.00 GEL) was measly and we were happy to tip more.
Great value Georgian cuisine in front of a roaring fire. Recommended on a cold winter's afternoon!
My girlfriend and I visited Cafe Gabriadze for a drink one evening during our stay in Tbilisi in February 2013.
This ornately decorated (with a theatrical theme) cafe and restaurant is attached to the Tbilisi Marionette Theatre and is next to the city's famous Clock Tower in the old town.
We took a seat in one of the cafe's dimly lit rooms at a small heart shaped wooden table that was covered in graffiti. The graffiti was part of the decor, not an act of vandalism! A small lamp with a pink shade lit our table and the atmosphere was quite intimate.
As we were heading to the sulphur baths after our drink, we decided to keep off the alcohol and enjoy some tea instead. Although more expensive than most places in Tbilisi, there was a good selection of unusual teas at Cafe Gabriadze.
I opted for:
Baku style black tea with thyme - 5.80 GEL (£2.25)
A pot of Azeri tea with a very strong taste of thyme. The pot gave around three glasses of tea. Despite the taste of thyme, I still felt the need to sweeten the tea with a cube of sugar.
Emma opted for:
Hot black tea with red wine - 6.20 GEL (£2.50)
The taste of red wine was very evident and the tea was sweet, but again, we still felt the need to add a cube of sugar.
A good selection of unusual teas next to the Clock Tower in Tbilisi's old town!
We had lunch at Metekhis Khidtan on our first day in Tbilisi in February 2013.
This simple local eatery is located on Gorgasali Street, between the sulphur baths and Meidan square, on the opposite bank of the river to Metekhi Church. One of the restaurant's main selling points is that it has large windows that look out towards this precariously perched church, clinging to the cliffside in the Avlabari district of the city.
Metekhis Khidtan doesn't have an English language sign outside (which is one of the things that attracted us to the place). I took a photo of the Georgian language sign and translated it letter by letter to establish its name.
It does, however, have English translations on its menu which consists of various Georgian staples. We had a list of Georgian dishes that we wanted to try and this was our first opportunity to do so.
We opted for the most ubiquitous of Georgian dishes; khachapuris and khinkali. These were two Georgian staples that we were to enjoy a lot of during our stay in Tbilisi.
Khinkali are large dumplings (similar to Polish pierogi) filled with meat, cheese, potato, mushrooms, spinach and various other fillings. They appear on the menus of most Georgian restaurants and often have to be purchased in minimum quantities of at least five.
At Metekhis Khidtan, there were three types of khinkali available; filled with meat, potatoes and mushrooms. They were all priced at 0.6 GEL (£0.24) each and there was no minimum order requirement. We were going to try a couple of each but the friendly staff, who spoke a little English, informed us that the mushroom and potato filled dumplings weren't available, so we'd have to have the meat ones. We ordered 4 of them.
The khinkali were a decent size. When we cut into them we found that they not only contained minced pork, but also a very tasty broth with plenty of herbs and spices and a strong taste of coriander. They were delicious!
As with the khinkali, there were several varieties of khachapuri available on the menu. We knew from our guidebook that these "cheese pies" came in various forms; some filled with cheese, some topped with cheese and others topped with a runny egg. We both opted for the "Imeretian Khachapuri"; six large, thin slices of bread filled with a layer of melted Imeruli cheese. They cost 6 GEL (£2.40) each. They were very nice, but it was a mistake to order one each; one to share would have been a much better idea. We managed four slices each and then asked for a bag to take the other four slices away with us. It seemed a shame to waste it!
Emma had a soft drink (1 GEL), while I ordered a bottle of Borjomi (1 GEL / £0.40) which I had read was Georgia's favourite non-alcoholic beverage. Borjomi is a salty mineral water, but tastes much nicer (and more refreshing) than it sounds. It is tastier than still mineral water and not as fizzy as carbonated mineral water. I enjoyed it...and drank a fair bit of it during our stay in Tbilisi.
Excellent value local food...khachapuris and khinkali...with great views of Metekhi Church. Recommended!
We popped into Coffee House for a drink on our first morning in Tbilisi in February 2013.
This newly-opened family-run venture is located on Ghvinis Agmarti (Wine Ascent), a steep cobbled hill that leads down from Ejmiatsin Armenian Church to Europe Square in the Avlabari area of the city.
We were greeted by a friendly couple who keenly ushered us into their cafe, clearly proud of their new business. They had decorated the interior to resemble a cave and furnished it with wooden tables and chairs, with vine leaves, wine bottles, wooden barrels and wine jugs on the walls. A primitive looking stove was cooking bread and puffing smoke out of the side of the building through a large pipe.
We communicated with the husband and wife team through a mixture of English and German. We learnt that they grow their own grapes and produce their own wine and coffee.
We sat ourselves down at a small table that contained a basket of brown and white bread croutons. There was no menu for us to look at, but we ascertained that they served both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks produced from their own saperavi grapes: a dry red wine, a sweet red wine and a non-alcoholic grape juice. We both ordered a glass of the grape juice, I had a glass of sweet red wine and Emma had a glass of dry red wine.
As we enjoyed our drinks, our hosts brought us a dish of Georgian sulguni cheese and a bowl of tiny saperavi grapes. They also insisted that we sample a slice of the churchkhela (the so-called "Georgian Snickers" consisting of walnuts in a thickened grape juice) that was hanging behind the bar. You'll find churchkhela for sale all over Tbilisi and it is a very nice alternative to a chocolate bar!
When we came to pay our bill we weren't sure what to expect. I got the impression that they charged us a price that they felt they could get away with and, had we been locals, we'd have probably paid less.
The total bill was 16 GEL (£6.40) which, for two glasses of wine, two soft drinks and a host of nibbles, would have been a bargain back in the UK. However, it was a little expensive by Georgian standards, as we discovered during our stay in Tbilisi.
A friendly new family-run cafe on Wine Ascent. Homemade grape juice, wine and coffee and freshly cooked bread. A little expensive by Tbilisi standards.
Coffee Time is a small stand-alone cafe in a small park behind the Goodwill in Vake. The most important point about this cafe is that it claims to serve Starbucks coffee. It operates as both a coffeehouse and a bar, and serves a wide-variety of easy-to-make meals, such as breakfasts, salads, and paninis. On Internet websites the cafe hours are listed as open 24 hours a day or opening at 9:00 am, but I question both of those claims. When we got there at 11:00 am on a Sunday they were opening the doors and lifting the window shades. One table was covered in beer glasses and ashtrays, which appeared to be left over from the night before. They also advertise Wi-Fi, although I did not test it.
We were the only customers there at the time and the barrista, a young man with medium-length curly hair, waited on us with excellent attention. While he was uncomfortable using English or Russian and we haven't learned Georgian yet, we had no problem communicating as the menu was written in both Georgian and English. There is plenty of parking in front of Coffee Time, and for those of you with young children, there is the added bonus of playground equipment within eyesight of the outdoor seating. Despite the presence of stagnant cigarette smell, we will definately return to this coffeehouse and recommend it to others.
Favorite Dish: During our first-time visit, we ordered a ham and cheese omelette, a bacon omelette, a chocolate crepe, an americano cafe, and a vanilla latte. The omelettes were thin (not American portioned) but tasty, and served with a fresh cucumber and tomato garnish. The crepe was also good with a smooth dark chocolate sauce. There were Starbucks decor, Starbucks paper bags, and Starbucks coffee packages all around, and the coffee might be Starbucks, but the portions were not Starbucks-sized. My husband said his coffee was strong (a good thing) and I throughly enjoyed my vanilla latte, so we're not complaining.