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Aug 23, 2013 11:33 AM

Lagidze: new Georgian restaurant in Midwood

Across the street and half a block south of the wonderful Tacis Beyti is this new Georgian spot. The decor is great: late-period Georgian castle, or perhaps villa. Wagon wheel chandeliers: awesome.

Three of us ordered spinach mashed with nuts, xinkali [the largish soup dumplings] and an achraruli kachapuri. The spinach came in a football-shaped lump, kind of like a pate but not as smooth. l'm not sure whether it was raw or lightly steamed or sauteed, but it tasted very bright and fresh. lt was nice on its own or spread onto the excellent house-made bread.

The xinkali [seven to an order] were good: very mildly seasoned, the wrappers a bit thick but not overly so. There was a decent amount of flavorful soup in them; from the description of the ones served at Oda House, these might have more soup in them? Despite their size, they don't contain as much soup as good XLB, and they're not nearly as rich, but still they're pretty tasty, like a juicier meat pierogie.

The achraruli kachapuri was really good: not as big as the one at Georgian Bread, but as rich and flavorful: the butter, salty cheese and egg mix together into that wonderful, decadent mush, the crunchy crust of the bread providing both a vehicle and textural contrast.

l'll definitely head back to explore the menu more. And, fyi, there's [l think] a Russian-owned wine store a couple of doors down, that has a decent selection of Georgian wines [though l don't think the restaurant is byob].

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  1. Thanks for the alert. How do you think this compares to other Bukharian places like Cheburechnaya.

    Interesting about the dumplings. Are the tradition Georgian dumplings? My Russian friends eat a type of dumpling that is in some ways similiar to Chinese dumplings but this is the first time I have heard of Georgian soup dumplings. Given its location on the silk road, i am not surprised by the influence. Very interesting!

    7 Replies
    1. re: mielimato

      Unfortunately, l don't know the Bukharan places, so l can't compare. ls Cheburechnaya good?

      The dumplings are Georgian. Here's a quote from a friend of mine who lives in Moscow who's a big fan of Georgian food and wine:

      "a proper khinkali should be a thicker skinned than a soup dumpling. as i have come to say - they should feel like old men's balls - long and saggy. I had them howling in tbilisi when i said that. they also need to be very juicy - a very sloppy meal if made correctly. the best have 18 folds in them - some sort of rule. get extras and take home the leftovers - fry them up like a potsticker and you have some serious hangover medicine."

      He said these ones looked pretty good, and also recommended that l try the bean-stuffed bread, which l definitely will next time.

      1. re: howdini

        That's an awesome quote although I don't think I want to be imagining that the next time I bite into a Georgian dumpling!

        I am no expert on this type of cuisine but Cheburechnaya was great the last time I was there a few months ago. Your post go me thinking that I need to go back again and discover more restaurants in this area.

        1. re: mielimato

          I've been to Cheburechnaya and an Uzbeki restaurant in Brooklyn called Asia. I've also tried a Georgian restaurant in Brooklyn. I believe that the Bukharan places are similar to Uzbeki restaurants in the dishes they offer. Georgian food, on the other hand, is quite different from Bukharan.

          1. re: chowmeow

            I think you are right. There is a lot of overlap between Bukharian food and Uzbeki food but not so much with Georgian food.

            1. re: mielimato

              This is probably because Bukhara is a city within the country of Uzbekistan, whereas Georgia is its own country.

              1. re: missmasala

                Buhkarians are an ethnic group that lived not only in Bukhara but in various places throughout Central Asia including Uzbehkistan and Tajikistan and because of the diaspora can trace their roots from places including Morroco, Spain, Iraq, Iran, etc. All these influences can be found in their food which makes it so fascinating. Many were merchants along the Silk Road so you can also find South Asian, Persian, and East Asian flavors as well. This is what caused by confusion because I assumed that the restaurant was Bukharian via the former Republic of Georgia. Here is an interesting old NYtimes article:

        2. re: howdini

          Come to think of it, I was at Oda House last night and its khinkali conform pretty closely to the "old man's balls" standard of quality. In a very good way. :)

      2. We went last night and had a great meal. Neither of us had ever had Georgian food before, so the menu was daunting and we ordered more or less at random. Not a problem: either we had good luck, or it was just plain hard to go wrong. We started with the tasty Georgian salad - cucumbers, tomatos that were actually flavorful, onions and cilantro - then dove into the best dish of the night: eggplant stuffed with nuts (listed under appetizers).

        That eggplant dish deserves its own paragraph. "Stuffed" is a bit of a misnomer. It's long slices of eggplant, smeared with a smooth walnut paste and folded over into little packets, then sprinkled with cilantro and pomegranate seeds. You could have given me a tub of that walnut paste and some bread and I would have been happy (especially after a glass of Georgian wine). There was garlic in there, I think, and pepper, I'm pretty sure, and a haunting herbal flavor that I eventually placed as fenugreek. I think.

        Then there was that gooey acharuli, and lamb kababi (sort of like shish kafta, served in a lavash-style wrap). We were slowing down by the time we got the kababi, but we're both dutiful eaters, so we kept going. The kababi came with a little tureen of peppery tomato sauce on a plate dusted with ground chile. Oh, and there were some totally unnecessary french fries on the side -- a little limp, but a sprinkling of dill and that chile powder made up for it.

        We skipped the dumplings - will have to go back to see (a) how they taste and (b) whether I can eat them with a straight face after the very evocative description.

        The restaurant does allow you to BYO, so we picked up a bottle of Georgian wine from the place down the block. I came close to regretting the wine (nah, not really) when I saw the Georgian sodas on offer - flavors included pear and tarragon. One of them (maybe it was the tarragon) was a truly astounding shade of emerald green.

        Service warmed up as the night went on. I think at first there was a bit of a dispute among the waitstaff as to who was going to get stuck serving the non-Georgian, non-Russian goofballs clutching their bottle of Saperavi and earnestly poring over the menu. (They do add an automatic 10% service charge to the bill, so be forwarned.)

        We left just as the house singer was warming up the karaoke machine, but not before the two girls at the next table put on a floor show of their own, dancing an exaggerated tango.

        9 Replies
        1. re: linda313

          Am curious about the 10% automatic surcharge. Did you tip your usual amount above this?

          Happened to us the other night at Cafe Nargis a bit further down Coney Island Avenue, where the meal was outstanding (especially the skewers, avocado salad and samsa). Full tables inside and out.

          1. re: Mike R.

            Yes, we left enough to add up to our usual tip. (Will keep Cafe Nargis in mind for the future.)

            1. re: Mike R.

              Oh, sorry, l forgot to mention that 10% surcharge in my OP: like Linda, we left 10% in addition to the added surcharge.

            2. re: linda313

              Thanks for the report! l hope to get back there soon and try your recs. While l'm not the biggest fan of eggplant, your description of the dish sounds very enticing...

              1. re: linda313

                Taste of Georgia (a bakery/takeout place) has an eggplant dish like this and it's one of my favorite things in the world! Those pomegranate seeds just put it into a whole other realm of deliciousness.

                I can't wait to try this place. Thanks to everyone who's already gone and reported back.

                1. re: linda313

                  Most of the restaurants in the area of countries of the former USSR have the 10% surcharge. Pay attention at other restaurants too

                  1. re: MVNYC

                    And do patrons customarily top that off to bring it to the standard 15-20% tip or do they just leave it at 10%?

                    1. re: mielimato

                      As an American I add extra to bring it up to 15-20%. I'm sure Russians and others don't. I would assume it is included because people who come from other countries would leave no tip so the 10% forces their hand.

                2. Went last night and had a solid meal, tried eight items with a group. Had highlights and lowlights, and we found many of the dishes saltier than necessary. The kitchen might still be working out the kinks?

                  Like some other people, I really liked the eggplant stuffed with nuts dish. I had not had anything similar before. An assortment of nuts might help take the bitterness of the walnuts away, but maybe that is the point to begin with. Only had on kebab, but it was excellent. The xinkali were almost great, just too salty. The chkmeruli and salianka were strong, just not game changers.

                  Milder cheese than usually found in katchapuri, I really liked our acharuli version. My table mates were so so on it.

                  Bought a couple bottles of Georgian mineral water (can't eat Georgian food without it), and also opted not to take the only option for wine they offer and brought in our own from the liquor store down the street. I've had almost 100% bad experiences with Georgian wine under $20, so paying $25 per bottle was worth it and we were happy with its dryness. The cheap ones tend to be too sweet for me.

                  Full report coming soon on my site. Will go back in six months or so to see if it improves. Definitely better than Tamada though, which it replaced.

                  1. Enjoyed this place very much...didn't love the khinkali, but everything else was delicious: red lobio (beans), kebabs, Georgian salad, chicken satsivi, khatchapuri, etc...the BYOB is nice and the liquor store (Come Go Liquor) across the st and a few metres south) has Georgian wine and is open til midnight...

                    18 Replies
                    1. re: Simon

                      l still haven't made it back down there; l'd like to go with a group, to maximize variety, but l don't know if that can happen :(

                      1. re: howdini

                        Did someone say group dinner? Contact me by e-mail (click on my name and my e-mail address is on my CH homepage) & we'll get something together.

                          1. re: howdini

                            Ok, folks. I've been in touch with "howdini" and we're trying to get a group together for dinner on Thurs 2/20. Anyone interested, contact me. I'm going to keep it a manageable size (8, maybe 10 at most) so...

                            1. re: Steve R

                              Steve, l'm pretty sure my son will be joining, so please take him into your count.

                          2. re: Steve R

                            I'm in! Thanks for arranging this Steve

                            1. re: Ziggy41

                              Great. Send me an e-mail so we can stay in touch off the boards.

                              1. re: Steve R

                                Still room for a couple more if anyone's interested. This coming Thurs 2/20 for dinner.

                                1. re: Steve R

                                  curious how this dinner went...would love a review :)

                                  1. re: Simon

                                    Well, the 5 of us ate a lot… no surprise there. I'm pretty sure that I'm the least knowledgable of the group on Georgian food, so hopefully others will weigh in, especially if I get something wrong. The salad was good, actually surprising me with tasty fresh tomatoes alongside cucumbers, etc. The eggplant stuffed with nuts was excellent, as was the spinach mashed with nuts. We ordered the chicken giblets w/nuts but I figured out later that what we got was "chicken in nut sauce". Not a good cold dish, since the chicken wasn't great and the sauce too thick and without much flavor or oomph. The mushrooms stuffed with cheese was just that &, since the big caps of the mushrooms held a lot of nice hot gooey cheese, this worked for me but isn't exactly anything other than what it sounds like. But, sure, I'd order it again. The "Xinkali" (Georgian dumplings) were much better than I expected. I love soup dumplings and am not a big fan of those with thick skins, but these thick skins were actually fine and the overall dumpling, while very filling, was tasty due to a generous amount of decent meat inside and a nicely flavored broth. "Beans Baked in Dough" was lighter than I expected and the beans were flavorful sandwiched inside fresh flat baked bread. We also had a large football shaped calzone/bialy like bread with a lot of cheese & an egg sitting in the center. This was very very good & I can't remember the name (was that "acharuli"?). I don't drink soda but none of us wanted alcohol enough to go out and get some to bring in, so we ordered the Lagidze label large bottles of "Pear Soda" and it was quite good, smelling of pear but tasting like Dr. Brown's Cream Soda. All in all, everyone felt (I think) that the meal was a good rendition of Georgian cooking and that the food was above average. I discovered that I know very little about this food and that eating a ton of bread dough and drinking a lot of sugar does not sit well with me. In summary, it's okay+ but I prefer the meals I've had in Cafe Glechik & a couple of other Russian places &, if I'm in that immediate neighborhood, I'd rather be eating at Taci's Beyta across the street. (I know… apples and oranges, but still).

                                    1. re: Steve R

                                      Excellent summation, Steve. l think the only thing you left out was the basket of very good bread brought to the table. The vegetable appetizers are definitely worth returning for, as are the stuffed breads. The chicken was fantastically boring, although dipping the bread in the sauce was nice. The pear soda was good, but could definitely have benefited from the addition of ice cubes.

                                      Here's pics of the stuff:

                                      1. re: howdini

                                        Yes, Steve R is spot on. Fun meal, good food, great company. The soda is something you see in just about every Russian restaurant/store under the name "Duchess" (pronounced dooshes). The Adjaruli Khatchapuri or acharuli was good but minuscule when compared to the one at Georgian Bread on Neptune. The eggplant/walnut dish (top middle pic) was excellent, but the star for me was the Xinkali (dumplings). Meaty, well seasoned, and as good as it gets in Brooklyn as far as I'm concerned.

                                        1. re: Ziggy41

                                          wondering whether any of you have been to Pirosmani, in Sheepshead Bay as a point of comparison? Have been planning to get out there for over a year.

                                          1. re: jen kalb

                                            It's been quite awhile; I don't have recent grounds for comparison.

                                            Dave Cook

                                      2. re: Steve R

                                        The lobiani (bean-filled) khachapuri was particularly good, and I really enjoyed the texture of the adjaruli's bread, and the cheese that insinuated itself under the outer edges. Good spinach, khinkali, too. I'd go back to try more, provided that the company is as good and that we limit ourselves to one fewer bottle of the very sugary "Dr. Brown's Georgian Cream Soda." As Steve notes, however, Taci's Beyti is so, so close.

                                        Dave Cook

                                        1. re: DaveCook

                                          these are not exactly glowing reports. The georgian dishes Ive had, even at places like Primorski, let alone Georgian Bread and in my own kitchen, have very interesting spice combinations whereas Tacis Beyti, while good, seemed fairly bland to me. I think I we will visit Pirosmani before we give Lagidze a try

                                          1. re: jen kalb

                                            please report back on Pirosmani...i liked (see above) my meal at Lagidze quite a bit, but i want to try all the places :)

                                            1. re: Simon

                                              "I Want To Try All The Places" should be printed on the official chowhound tee shirt.