Review: Chef's Grandma Restaurant in Tbilisi, Georgia, is Absolutely Charming
The Takeaway: Chef’s Grandma serves delicious traditional Georgian food in a very nontraditional way that makes for a terrific restaurant experience.
At Chef’s Grandma, a restaurant in Tbilisi, Georgia, the kitchen isn’t tucked away in back. It’s an open part of the restaurant itself, in what appears to be the front room of a quaint Georgian apartment. Honestly, when you first step inside, you might think you’ve come to the wrong place. But you haven’t. You’re exactly where you should be.
Diners have their choice of sitting at tables out on the sidewalk or inside, where you can watch from your table as your food is prepared by the family that lives in the apartment above: Grandma, Grandpa, their daughter, and grandchildren.
You definitely want to eat inside if you can. And if you’re lucky, Grandpa might joint the party and play the piano for you.
But what about the food?
Chef’s Grandma has a small menu (to go along with its small kitchen). We ordered the chicken with fried maize polenta in walnut sauce, duck with coconut milk and vegetables, Grandma’s salad, and ajapsandali — a traditional Georgian dish made of onion, potato, tomato, and eggplant. We also ordered fresh bread with olives and the large pitcher of pomegranate kompot to share.
Not a single dish disappointed. I’m especially not a fan of duck, but the meat was tender and the flavor understated instead of overpowering, the way duck can often be. It actually reminded me of a very subtle Indian curry. The ajapsandali was especially flavorful, the spices clearly demonstrating Georgia’s nearness to the Middle East. And the Georgian bread was wonderful (but that’s typical in this country where the bread rarely disappoints). As for the kompot — a kind of fruit tea — it was refreshing without being overly sweet.
We had wanted to order the khachapuri and fried potatoes. Alas, both were sold out — another problem with such a small kitchen. Other menu items included Chikhirtma soup, assorted pkhali, and spinach cream-soup as starters. For entrees, the choices included Sulguni cheese balls, chicken with vegetables in cheese, boiled beef with spinach in hot honey sauce, and mushroom with vegetables in cheese sauce.
The most expensive item on the menu was 25 lari, or a little over $8 USD; most were cheaper. Our total bill for four was 110 lari, or about $34 USD — a bargain by Western standards.
It’s hard to overstate what a unique, charming experience Chef’s Grandma offers. I honestly can’t think of another meal I’ve eaten that left me so delighted with the overall experience. The food was genuinely delicious, the music was lovely, and the decor homey, like something out of a movie — maybe a charming romantic comedy.
If you’re ever in Tbilisi, check out Chef’s Grandma and experience this hidden gem for yourself.
Located at 22, Pavle Ingorokva St. Open every day except Thursday from noon to midnight.