Most people may not be able to place Georgia on a map, but after a dinner at Supra, I can guarantee that you’ll fall for its cuisine. To quote my friend who joined me for dinner (and has never had any Georgian food before), “I want to move into the kitchen so that I can eat this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”
I just got back from my first trip to Georgia a few weeks ago, and I was already missing the food. Thankfully, DC was about to open its first fully-Georgian restaurant. Let me tell you, nothing tastes better on a cold night than some steaming hot khinkali – Georgian dumplings stuffed with meat or mushroom. Fun culture fact: a supra is actually the name of the traditional Georgian feast, led by a tamada or toastmaster. Dishes at the restaurant are served family style, so bring your appetite and try something from the different parts of the menu. The menu features hot and cold appetizer-like dishes that can be combined to make a whole meal on their own. There are also a variety of mtsvadi and kebabs marinated in traditional spices and large shareable plates such as a whole grilled fish and braised lamb. I recommend the chkmeruli, roasted chicken in a creamy garlic sauce – it sounds simple but it was one of my favorite dishes. Did I mention that there are SIX different kinds of khachapuri? If you haven’t discovered this bread-and-cheese combo yet, I highly recommend it – and no one will judge you for ordering a few different kinds. The restaurant features the traditional Imeruli style, the ever-Instagramable Ajaruli style, and varieties with a white bean filling or a spicy meat filling.
The restaurant’s founder, Jonathan Nelms, says that his favorite items on the menu are the pkhlovani khachapuri (soft dough stuffed with spinach, fresh herbs, and cheese) and the eggplant nigvzit (eggplant rolls stuffed with Georgia’s signature walnut/garlic/herb paste). Nelms hopes that the restaurant, in addition to its great food and wine, will also serve as a way for people in DC to learn about Georgian culture. Said Nelms, “We have a beautiful metalwork (copper ribbon) piece in the main dining room to show off the unique Georgian alphabet, while the “Georgian Horsemen” piece in the waiting area will teach guests about the Georgian trick-riders who toured the United States and Europe 100 years ago, rock stars ahead of their time.” He’ll have a Georgian street artist friend visit soon who will add old and new “supra” scenes to the bar area.
The restaurant has an impressive variety of Georgian wines by the glass and bottle, including bottles produced using the traditional qvevri method (a process that dates back an estimated 8,000 years). The drink menu also features signature cocktails such as the “Chacha Sour” (chacha, lemon juice, egg white, and Angostura bitters), the “Tarkhuna Twist” (gin, tarragon “lemonade”, lime, Luxardo maraschino), and the “Kudiani” (Filibuster bourbon, secret bitters, and shaved walnuts).
And for those of you who do know Georgian food…I checked with Chef Maisashvil – he’ll fry up your leftover khinkali for you.