While Toronto has a truly multicultural selection of cuisines to choose from, certain cuisines definitely tend to dominate. As a result, it’s extra exciting discovering delicious non-trendy food. We were eager to try Aragvi, which specializes in food from Georgia (the country, not the state – those expecting peach pie will be sorely disappointed). Not knowing anything about Georgian cuisine, we were pleasantly surprised at how familiar and tasty the dishes were.
Adjarian Khachapuri 10
What drew us to Aragvi in the first place were their variations of bread – the khachapuri. The boat-shaped Adjarian khachapuri was our unanimous favourite, filled with molten cheese, butter, and topped with a runny egg. We loved this chewy bread so much we got a second order, and even recreated it at home!
Kubdari Khachapuri 10
The other khachapuri we tried was the Kubdari, which had a more pastry-like consistency. It was stuffed with chicken and onions, similar to a flat meat pie. While tasty, it was not quite as unique as the Adjarian.
From the cold appetizer section, we ordered the satsivi, a creamy chicken dish that was surprisingly dairy-free. The deliciously rich sauce was made from pureed walnuts, and went very well with the bread. As a proponent of “easy meat”, I really appreciated that the large tender pieces of chicken had no tendons or skin included, and was not dry or stringy.
As I love soup, I was excited to try the Azerbaijan lamb meatball soup with chickpeas, rice, and potatoes. We found this milder soup bland compared to the other more strongly flavoured dishes and was pretty forgettable overall.
The second soup we tried was the Kharcho, a tomato-based veal soup with garlic and rice. This soup was not bland at all, being almost overwhelmingly sour from the tomatoes.
Next up, we tried the Khinkali, the Georgian dumpling. We were a little skeptical upon seeing them, as they looked like heavier versions of the delicate soup dumplings we are used to. Fortunately, appearances were deceiving, and the light skin wrapped around well-seasoned meat made these enjoyable bites. Apparently, the tops of these dumplings are not meant to be eaten, but we devoured them too quickly to realize.
Moving onto the entrees, we ordered the Chakhokhbili, a tomato-based chicken stew. Unlike the Kharcho, our other tomato-based dish of the night, it was not sour at all, with the tomatoes only providing a pleasant tang. We enjoyed this dish so much, every last bit of the garlicky sauce was mopped up.
Most of their grilled entree options were kabobs, but we wanted to try dishes that were more unique to Georgian cuisine, and decided on the Kupati, helped along by our love of sausages. The pork-and-lamb sausages were grilled to perfection, with a pleasantly springy texture, and well-seasoned. We thoroughly enjoyed the sausages, as well as the crispy potatoes served alongside with spiced ketchup. The side salad, composed of chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onions, was a refreshing accompaniment to the heavier sausages and potatoes.
Continuing our theme of trying unfamiliar items, we hastily Googled the beverages we did not recognize. The Borjomi and Nabeghlavi turned out to be bottled mineral waters, so we ordered the Tarhun. As tarkhuna is tarragon in Georgian, Tarhun is unsurprisingly tarragon flavoured. The fizzy drink was very very green, but had a mild, pleasant flavour.
Aragvi’s tiny purple themed dining room is quite fancy, and feels like a compressed banquet hall – contrasting from its harsh suburban strip mall exterior. The pleasant staff and interesting foods are worth trying, but remember to make a reservation!
Last visited Saturday Evening, January 18, 2014.
Aragvi Georgian Restaurant
832 Sheppard Ave W, Toronto