An unexpected food discovery occurred on my trip to Vienna. My first foray into the wonderful world of Georgian cuisine! You might be wondering why someone would travel to Vienna to try Georgian cuisine. Work meetings during the week ran late, but on Friday we wrapped up in time for a nice meal before everyone had to run off and catch flights home. By that point, we had all had our share of requisite schnitzel and sacher torte. So a colleague – one of the many benefits of working with international foodies – recommended that we try a Georgian restaurant for a change of pace.
The only exposure I had to the country was a runway show at Milan Fashion Week earlier this spring, but Georgia has been on my bucket list for a while. Several close friends have raved about the beautiful Georgian countryside and the food influenced by its location at the crossroads of the old spice route. I love any cuisine that utilizes cilantro, garlic, and spices so it’s no surprise that I was pleased that we had decided to venture beyond traditional Viennese restaurants.
Alaverdi Restaurant: A Georgian Culinary Odyssey in Vienna
We settled on Alaverdi Restaurant, which is located on Maxergasse near major metro and tram lines. The restaurant’s elegant decor includes Georgian crafts and some funky tilted stem ware that added a touch of whimsy to the tablescapes.
Our colleague also graciously guided us through the menu and provided some background on Georgian culinary traditions. The recommendation to try some traditional bread served us well. There are several varieties on the menu. We started off with the delicious cheese filled (need I say more), imeruli khachapuri. It was sliced up for sharing. The texture reminded me of Indian cheese naan (which is super hard to come by in Rome) so I was in food heaven.
We opted to skip kebabs and stick to mostly vegetarian mezze options to try as many new dishes as possible. Next, we tried badridzhani nigvsit which is made by filling fried slices of eggplant up with a garlicky walnut paste. At Alaverdi, it was served on a bed of lettuce and garnished with fresh cilantro.
Khinkali is a traditional Georgian soup dumpling filled with ground meat. According to my colleague, the number of folds in the wrapper indicates the quality of the preparation and the number of khinkali consumed is a measure of a man’s manliness.
It is customary to consume Khinkali is by holding the top knot and slowly eating the sides while slurping the broth and working your way to the center. I didn’t quite master the proper etiquette but was on board with the tradition of sprinkling on fresh black pepper to the steaming hot dumplings.
We also tried shared some lobio, a bean dish prepared in traditional clay earthenware. The preparations can vary. Alaverdi’s is a creamy soup made with onions and herbs served with Georgian corn bread.
Two servings of khinkali proved to be a bit too much for our group so we skipped dessert, but did try some Georgian drinks. Georgia is known for its ancient wine producing techniques, but I was happy to learn that drinks options also included some fun non-alcoholic drink options. Alaverdi serves a few of the popular Georgian flavored lemonades. We tried the fizzy tarragon and pear (my favorite) flavors. Now, I will just have to find a Georgian restaurant in Rome soon to try some Georgian sweets.
1030 Vienna, Austria