Above: The dining area of Barbarestan in Tbilisi, Georgia

A Taste of Tbilisi

With its strategic location on the Silk Road, sandwiched between the Black and Caspian seas, Georgia has developed a unique culinary tradition, incorporating recipes from its neighbors as well as more far-flung trading partners. The tone oven, used for baking bow-shaped shoti bread, looks a lot like an Indian tandoor. A supra (feast) often includes an array of dishes resembling Turkish mezzes. Pomegranate frequently appears in savory recipes, as it does in Persian cuisine. And khinkali dumplings, traditionally filled with soup and meat, seem quite similar to Chinese xiaolongbao.

Most menus feature a wide range of tempting vegetarian dishes, making Georgia a surprisingly easy place to avoid meat, if not dairy. And few restaurants in Georgia offer formal presentations. In most cases, the food will be plentiful, flavorful, relatively inexpensive and perfect with a glass of local wine. We ate well in the Kakheti wine region, notably at Pheasant’s Tears winery and the Schuchmann Hotel, but most of Georgia’s best restaurants cluster in the capital city, Tbilisi.


Roasted pork belly with a salad of purple cabbage, cilantro and sesame oil from Azarphesha - Photo by Hideaway Report editor

Tucked into a 19th-century building near Liberty Square, this restaurant feels at once homey and stylish. Pheasant’s Tears winery (under the same ownership) consulted on the wine list, which has a fine selection of natural bottlings (produced organically and with minimal intervention). Our friendly waitress offered smart recommendations for pairings, suggesting a peachy and tannic Okro’s Mtsvane with an intense salad of spicy greens and sweet mulberries. A nutty, earthy Dasambi Tavkveri worked well with a plate of roasted pork belly and a slaw of purple cabbage, cilantro and sesame.

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