Sheraton Hotels Part 5: Phenomenal Khachapuri + Ponchiki at Funicular Restaurant
PHOTO: My epic photo of a friend taking a photo of Funicular Restaurant's Khachapuri (c) Sery Kim
Having been home to D.C. now for two weeks, the incredibly fresh food of Tbilisi, Georgia still merits my full attention. Drawn from the fertile lands of Tbilisi, the fruits and vegetables and meats of Tbilisi don't arrive into the thriving city from massive containers which were shipped across oceans. Instead, Georgians eat food which completely embodies the "farm to table" movement in its most true and pure state.
In particular, and also because I have been trying to eat healthier -- goodbye Doritos, my true love!! -- my palate was particularly riveted by the popular Whole 30-esque element in every Tbilisi dish. The appetizers, especially, came alive due to the raw true-ness of the root elements. For instance, for those of you who read my review of my favorite Tbilisi restaurant Shavi Lomi knows, the country of Georgia's food takes vegetables, adds a blush of simple flavor to draw out the vegetable's essential aroma, and then presents it in an array of colors and marvelous bites. So delicious my mouth waters at the memory!! My favorite was the eggplant, which was transformed into chunky (yet oddly smooth) bursts of sweet and salty flavor. Think the vegetable equivalent of delicious kettle corn popcorn.
PHOTO: Our massive table at Funicular Restaurant (c) Sery Kim
In addition to Shavi Lomi, the Sheraton Grand Hotel Tbilisi took us to another noteworthy, super famous restaurant called Funicular Restaurant. Located inside the Funicular Restaurant Complex at the highest point in Tibili -- go their website here to watch some videos -- the Funicular Restaurant not only provides sensational views, but they also do the best presentation of two carb-centric dishes: Khachapuri and Ponchiki, aka a Russian donut.
PHOTO: Me just outside Funicular Restaurant (c) Sery Kim
Khachapuri is the most well-known of the fabulous Georgian cuisine dishes. Typically, bread is leavened and allowed to rise by itself, thus taking shape in various natural shapes. Cheese is then melted in the middle of the leavened berad, with the bread then used to dip the cheese. Sometimes, for those who want to go even more authentic and genuine, an egg is placed on top of the cheese so all can be whipped into a gluttonous froth of gooey-bliss.
Until we ate at Funicular Restaurant, I hadn't had a chance to try the famous "cheese with egg" version of khachapuri. Now having had this version, I can not imagine eating cheesey bread with the egg!! FABULOSITY!!! I found the egg added a lightening to the cement-like cheese. Furthermore, the entire concocotion became more like a dense whipped cream rather than a heavy Velveeta-comprised queso.
PHOTO: Ponchiki (c) Sery Kim
Additionally, we also were able to try a Russian donut called Ponchiki. I've never had this particular dessert and what it tasted like to me was akin to a thick croissant bread, lightly dusted in white sugar, with a airy sweet cream on the inside. (Read here for a brief history of this Russian donut.) The ponchiki was particularly delightful because the Funicular Restaurant served it extra hot and warm. The donut ripped beautifully and absolutely melted in mouth.
I am not going to lie, I had two. In 10 minutes.
PHOTO: My second Ponchiki (c) Sery Kim
If you do ever go to Georgia, do not miss the chance to try these two dishes -- and particularly to experience Funicular Restaurant. Many many thanks to the tremendous team at Sheraton Grand Hotel Tibilisi for taking us here! Such a great way to start a fourth day in Georgia!