Little Georgia, Hackney - Review
I’d heard about Little Georgia a number of times, including it’s enforced relocation from on Broadway Market proper (Read about that here and here). I normally ride my bike past it most days after work and it just looks so inviting and homely. When we were in Moscow, Russia (around the time they were invading Georgia) we actually went to a lovely Georgian restaurant which served some of the best food of the Russian part of the trip and I’ve still fond memories almost a year later. When Giles Coren actually had some nice things to say about it, well it seemed almost rude not to check it out.
So, one fine Sunday afternoon Brad and I wandered up to the new Little Georgia, going via the extensive bottleshop come off-license on Broadway Market. We stopped to purchase a lovely Stoneleigh Pinot Noir, from New Zealand, 2007 vintage which was around £8 or so. Little Georgia has no license and charges no corkage fee to bring your own.
Onwards to Little Georgia we went, where we were greeted by a gruff gentleman, who let us choose our table. We decided to stay inside rather than choosing the wonky tables that stand outside the restaurant.
With our lovingly home printed menu, we took the advice of some other reviewers which mentioned the strength of the lighter dishes over the daily specials for mains. We ordered Meat Filled Blinis, a Carrot Salad, a Spinach Pate type dish and the Hachapuri.
The hachapuri had to be the highlight, it was fresh and light, filled with a soft cheese. I could have happily eaten a whole one to myself. Blinis were lovely too, lightly spiced minced meat and crunchy on the outside. The carrot salad was a little disappointing, a bit soggy and boring for my liking. The spinach pate was interesting, not entirely what I expected, it came cold, mashed with garlic and olive oil. It was a good contrast to the blini and hachapuri.
Service wasn’t exactly swift but we were quite happy drinking our wine. It’s quite nice to enjoy eating out instead of knowing you have to rush off elsewhere. We ended up skipping the dessert, although this was out of laziness than of our own choice. Our server neglected to ask if we wanted anything else, despite us both eying up the selection of cakes on the counter. So after getting the bill we went home via another off-license, where we purchased ice-creams. It was certainly a squeeze though, because despite not looking like much we were pretty stuffed!
All up, the bill was £20.50 for all four dishes, service not included. Pretty reasonable for a dinner for two. Would I go back? Certainly. Would I recommend it? Definitely to those who are local to Hackney but maybe not if you had to travel for ages.
87 Goldsmiths Row
London E2 8QR
Roast Chakhokhbili: Roasted Georgian Chicken
Making this dish was an adventure in and of itself; eating it was another. Chakhokhbili is a Georgian chicken stew infused with lots of spices and vegetables; instead of making a stew, I decided to roast the chicken whole to give my guests their desired selection of meat. This was the hands-down favorite at my last dinner party. Georgian cuisine is very flavorful and based on ingredients native to the region; one cannot categorize it as Middle Eastern, Indian or Russian, it is an entity in and of itself. The Georgian people are fiercely proud of the culinary bounty provided by their native land, which is clear from the first bite.
The recipe is based on Clarissa Hyman’s chakhokhbili recipe published in The Jewish Kitchen, one of my favorite cookbooks. I had to adjust a few ingredients and the cooking time, as always, but I stuck fairly close to the original recipe. However, the sauce came out a little too chunky for my taste, so I’m describing each step separately.
For the sauce:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 lb peeled and boiled potatoes
15 oz can plain tomato sauce
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp hot paprika
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
2 bay leaves
1 cup Shiraz or other red wine
Put the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they become translucent and slightly browned; remove from the heat. Combine all sauce ingredients and mash together, not all lumps need to be gone but the potatoes should be mashed enough to contribute to the texture of the sauce. Heat for about 10 minutes.
For the chicken:
1 medium chicken
1 large roasting pan, lined with foil
1 cup chicken broth
several tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour the broth into the roasting pan and after salting and rinsing, add the chicken. Top the chicken with a cup to a cup and a half of the sauce and bake for an hour and a half. Remove from the oven and increase the heat to 400. Using a wooden spoon, gently clear some of the sauce from the top of the chicken — this will allow the outside to become crispy. Put it back in the oven and cook until the outside is brown and crispy; using a meat thermometer, check to make sure the meat on the thigh hits at least 165 degrees before removing for good. You can either serve this whole and allow people to sauce it as they desire or you can divide it into about 8 sections, toss and coat with the remainder of the sauce and finally, top with the fresh mint.