I am not one to be easily impressed by food, drinks, decor or service. After all, having spent most of the last four years as a full-time food-and-travel writer, despite your best efforts to enjoy whatever is given to you, you grow a bit jaded having tried so much plentiful experiences. But yesterday our marvelous host team at the Sheraton Grand Tbilisi Metechi Palace took us to lunch in Old Town Tbilisi, Georgia where I truly had a really magical experience at Shavi Lomi (no website, phone +995 32 296 09 56, email email@example.com).
PHOTO: The doors behind the secret restaurant Shavi Lomi (c) Sery Kim
In the Georgian tradition of beautiful restaurants being housed in converted homes, Shavi Lomi has taken the design and feel of a gorgeous British countryside manor and placed it in the middle of European Old Town Tbilisi. Colorful artwork (as shown above) does not tip-the-hand to the treasure which lays beyond.
PHOTO: Interior dining space at Shavi Lomi (c) Sery Kim
I particularly loved the cozy feel of the interior dining space of Shavi Lomi, but because the weather in Tbilisi was a sensationally blissful 85 degrees our group took to a long picnic table in the garden outdoors. (Novel fact about Tbilisi, there seem to be an utter lack of either mosquitos or flies of any sort. Totally fascinating!!)
PHOTO: The bounty of our table at Shavi Lomi (c) Sery Kim
In an absolute embarrassment of nutritional richness, our magnificent hosts the Sheraton Grand Tbilisi Metechi Palace took the liberty of ordering some of Shavi Lomi's best dishes. Something to note before I forget: when you come to Tbilisi, you should expect tremendous value for your dollar. Currently the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Georgian Lira is 3 to 1. Plus the freshness and bright color of the fruits, vegetables and seafood/meats/poultry astonishes at the "deal" you are getting.
We started with a glorious mezze selection in a hearty wooden bowl the size of coffee table. Every element of this $15 lira appetizer (aka $5 U.S.) resonated with a feeling of just being alive while eating it.
PHOTO: Shavi Lomi's Khachipuri (c) Sery Kim
Another favorite of mine was the famous Georgian classic called Khachipuri. Essentially bread baked with cheese, Shavi Lomi's arrived in a piping hot presentation resembling a quesadilla. As the scaldingly gooey cheese made it's way through my body, I could feel myself literally melt with joy.
PHOTO: Fresh Grilled Trout with Veggies (c) Sery Kim
At this point in the meal, with the wine and Georgian Lemonade -- totally obsessed with this style of lemonade made from Egyptian tea -- , I was growing full but when this flawless Trout landed on the table ($15 lira, $5 dollars), I had to have some. The way the fish meat just melted off at the first touch of the fork, while still holding onto its essential body shape, really was fascinating. I think the last time I had such perfect seafood made was in Santorini last year and I definitely paid closer to $30 dollars for that pleasure!!
PHOTO: Slow cooked red beans in Clay Pot (c) Sery Kim
And while the photo of the vegan "Slow Cooked Red Beans in Clay Pot," barely does it justice, I loved the taste of this dish as well. Unlike most bean dishes, this was hearty yet light. Every bean also was sturdy yet soft, a wonderful contrasting state of being.
Overall, truly one of the best meals I've had this year -- and certainly the best meal I've had in Tbilisi thus far. If you get a chance to visit this amazing city, this should be your first stop to eat!