Georgian restaurants are no strangers to anyone. They grow everywhere, and at best, they always serve delicious food, at worst the owners’ hospitality is poured into supposedly sincere singing of variety hits from the 90’s and 00’s. But you can’t compare all of this to the moment, when the soul of the people, their cuisine, becomes connected with the soul, especially St. Petersburg’s soul, and they open the place that even Georgia itself lacks. Ladies and gentlemen, Khinkali restaurant Kazbegi, hamarjoba!
‘Sakhinkle’, or ‘Khinkali’ is a Georgian dumpling, and yes, it is not a bar in the usual sense of the word, but Petersburg would not be Petersburg if there was no bar counter at this Khinkali restaurant. And let drinking always be with you! Homemade wine, pouring from clay jugs, Georgian beer, port wine as an appetizer (an excellent fit to khinkali, among other things). When you ask: ‘Do you have cider?’ The ironic bartender, hardly even looking in your direction, answers: ‘We are a simple Georgian cafe, we are not into stupid things.’ And at this moment I feel that I have got into a stream of pure, naked, discouraging sincerity, which I love and because of which I’m ready to fall in love with this naughty stone city.
Everything is fine with this place: the virgin red brickwork, the antique sideboard, the Georgian carpet on the wall, and the proud horn above the bar, and the wallpaper in the ladies’ room, and the bartenders’ approach to the waitress: ‘And in general could you refrain from not drinking at work! It’s annoying.’ You seem to get into the family, but you are beyond the intrusive hospitality, you don’t feel uncomfortable, rather you enjoy this warm, satisfying and humorous comfort, like the middle child at a table, who has the opportunity to observe without drawing attention.
At some point a sign over the entrance appeared, and everyone asked for it, and everyone asked about it. This sign is in Georgian fascinating ligature (if it can be called so). And that’s the whole point. I know that they keep a wary eye on the thickness of each khinkali and follow it zealously, I know that the appearance of an unwanted plate is immediately suppressed, that the process is debugged and works at full force. If I didn’t know it for myself, I would have thought that everything here works by itself, that everything has turned out like a cut of cards with a certain degree of luck. I can always count on Olya Voldaykina, the team that she builds around herself, the business she takes into her own hands, and the atmosphere she creates. Let’s have a toast for it!
Fontanka river embankment, 20, Sankt-Peterburg
Sun-Thu 12:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Fri-Sat 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.
photo: barpass.by, Maria Mitrofanova