Eleven Chowhounds gathered together to try Georgian food at this hopping new restaurant. Clearly it has hit a nerve in DC because it was packed after being open for just a month.
We had a ringer with us, someone who is Georgian, who was quite prosaic about their cuisine: "how can you screw it up?" Meaning, it's simply delicious. And it was.
We started off with a series of appetizers, the highlights for me being the eggplant roulade and the sausage, but it was all good. I was beginning to think the Georgian was right. The plum sauce for the hot and crispy potatoes was sour, and it didn't seem to quite fit - this might have worked better on something that could stand up to it.
PICKLE ASSORTI - Peppers, cucumbers, red cabbage, jonjoli
EGGPLANT NIGVZIT - Eggplant stuffed with walnuts, cilantro
PKHALI ASSORTI - Trio of vegetable pâtés: beet, spinach, green bean, with walnuts, garlic
LOBIO NIGVZIT - kidney beans, walnuts, fresh herbs
ELARJI - Cornmeal and cheese croquettes, almond sauce, red ajika
KALE MOSHUSHULI - Sautéed kale, garlic, svanuri salt
KARTOPILI KAMIT - Fingerling potatoes, dill, green plum tkemali
VEGETABLE MAKALZE - Grilled eggplant, sweet peppers, asparagus, squash, tomato satsebeli
KUPATI - Pork and beef sausages, pomegranate, fried pickles
We went on to three breads. The meal was starting to get a bit cheesy for some of us. I've had the ajaruli kachapuri before at Compass Rose. It is a MUST ORDER at either place.
IMERULI - Traditional stuffed cheese bread
AJARULI - Boat-shaped cheese bread, organic egg yolk
KUBDARI - pork and beef filling
We then tried 'one of each,' a kabob, a dumpling, and a casserole. We chose pork kabob because it was marinated in wine and was pork, something you will not find at other kabob places. The kabob was juicy, but it lacked any exterior char. The dumpling was inedible. It was icebox cold on the inside and raw. Maybe the highlight of the night was the intense lamb-y casserole topped with a mound of cilantro and pieces of grilled bread. it tasted as good as it looked, which is a serious compliment.
PORK - Marinated in white wine, with ajika and tkemali
KINKHALI - Beef and Pork Soup Dumplings
CHANAKHI - Braised lamb, eggplant, sweet pepper, tomato sauce, traditional breads