When I read that Aragvi was “the only authentic Georgian restaurant in Ontario,” I knew I had to give it a try. Now, I’ll admit that there was some minor concern about how adventurous some of the food might be for a group of my friends and family with different tastes. Let me tell you, this place delivers on a number of levels. Family owned & operated since 2010, they made us feel right at home with some delicious home cooking and Eastern European hospitality… which my wife later told me was very reminiscent of times she spent in Bulgaria. In fact, they were so friendly and accommodating with my 9-month-old daughter Molly, we’re already planning a return visit.
Not knowing exactly what to expect, we let the house make a couple of suggestions. Pkhali ($9) is an extremely flavourful, spreadable blend of Beets, Walnuts, Garlic and Wine Vinegar. Served cold, it comes garnished with fresh Cilantro and Pomegranate. The next time we visit we’re going to try the Izpanahi ($9). It’s prepared & served the same way as above; however, they substitute the Beets for Spinach. Mmmmmmmmm!
Hachapuri are a house specialty: homemade pastries that are served hot. They recommend trying the Imeretinskoe version, which comes in 2 sizes ($10 and $20). Think of fresh pizza-like dough stuffed with salty cheese and topped with a melty, milder cheese. We’re left wishing we ordered the larger size. This is a great way to mop-up all the Pkhali.
We had been smelling the BBQ since we walked through the door, so we had to try the Chicken Shish Kebob ($13). Grilled over charcoal, we opt for the dark meat variety which is served alongside a Georgian take on the Shopska Salad and Armenian-style Dill Potatoes. This is a great plate for sharing. We wash everything down with a pitcher of Tarhun ($7) which is a homemade, non-alcoholic Taragon Soda that’s not too sweet. It’s flourescent green which makes for a crazy contrast to the Pkhali. It’s another must try.
Named after a river that runs through the heart of the Caucasus, Aragvi is a little slice of Georgian life right here in the city. It’s one of our favourite dining experiences of the past year and has certainly set the bar very high for 2014. Next time you are heading to Yorkdale, I deplore you: skip the food court and drive the extra 5 minutes to check this place out. You will not be disappointed… or the next pint of Tarhun is on me.