The random number generator is being very kind to us. This week it landed on Georgia, a country whose cuisine I have never tried and whose history I know little about other than a Russian incursion in the 2000s. We were both looking forward to this one. There are two Georgian restaurants in Berlin, we chose Genazvale based on slightly better reviews and a less cheesy website.
We were off to a really good start. The restaurant which is in a particularly unattractive part of Wilmersdorf was full of customers and bustling which was encouraging as all the other restaurants nearby were empty. We were seated at a well dressed wooden table in a traditionally decorated room. It was nice to step our the bright lights of generic West Berlin into rural Georgia.
The menu had lots of options on the theme of grilled and stewed pork, lamb and chicken. There were also some fish dishes which didn’t really appeal. The prices at an average of 15 euros were a bit of a shock compared to what we’ve been paying in other places. OK, so maybe we’ve been a bit spoiled living here!
We decided to go with a lamb shashlik menu as it seemed like to best way of trying lots of things for the best price as we’d never tried the cuisine before. This was where things started to go wrong…
Minutes after ordering the first part of the menu arrived. Radioactively pink cabbage, some steamed dumplings sitting in a bath of pan water and some lumps of cheese, aubergine, spinach and beetroot pâté accompanied by uncut giant radishes, whole spring onions and half a bunch of coriander. Hmmmn. It was all a bit weird. The dumplings had a good meaty taste but were watery, the cabbage was simply vile and the pâtés whilst edible had a musty taste. The cheese was okay though! Some slightly stale bread arrived next followed by two separate but interchangeable bowls of soup. One calf and one bean. Both weird. In my experience Central Asian food is reliant on fragrant subtle spicing which can be sublime when done well. Both soups were overly fragrant almost perfume like with over the top spicing. I did not enjoy them leaving half a portion and hoping things would improve.
Next came some cheese filled pastry slices which were filling and inoffensive and then the main guy; the lamb shashlik. I am possibly being a bit too negative about the food, it was ok if not to my taste perhaps. But it was the lamb that was going to make or break this meal and unfortunately the stingy, tough cut of meat that arrived accompanied by a cold cooked tomato was an utter disappointment. For 37 euros we felt as though we had paid for a succession of side dishes we didn’t enjoy at the expense of a decent main course. The menu had been a bad decision. We paid our bill which included three beers and a glass of average Georgian house wine, tipped and sloped off back home to Kreuzberg, still a bit hungry and 50 euros the poorer. I don’t know what to think about Georgian food. Was this a bad example or is this as good as it gets; the jury is out.