Today’s post is brought to you courtesy of Stacy, a member of Stuttgart food and wine lovers, a Facebook group for English speakers in the Stuttgart area. A few days ago, Stacy posted about Tshito-Gwrito, a Georgian restaurant she and her husband discovered. She remembered that I posted about how much I love Georgian wines and wondered if I’d tried this restaurant. I must confess that prior to her post, I had no idea the place existed. However, it took very little convincing before I was ready to drive the hour to the city to try it. Earlier today, their official Web site was working, but right now, it appears to be down. You can also check out their Facebook page.
I was excited to try Tshito-Gwrito, mainly because I used to live in the Republic of Armenia, which is the country south of Georgia. Both Armenia and Georgia are Christian countries that were once part of the former Soviet Union. Wine was pretty much born in Georgia and Armenia, although during the Soviet era, Georgia focused on winemaking while Armenia focused on producing exquisite brandy. When I looked at the restaurant’s menu, I saw a few selections I remembered from my time in Armenia. Their cuisines are somewhat similar. I already knew about Georgia’s wonderful wines, which I have talked up a lot in Stuttgart food and wine lovers. I had a feeling the food would be a most welcome change of pace.
From our home, Tshito-Gwrito is about an hour away by car. It was a bit of a pain to navigate Stuttgart traffic and then find a place to park. However, I am happy to report that the effort was well worth it. We had a wonderful time at Tshito-Gwrito and we will definitely make an effort to go back. I saw a few things on the menu I still want to try.
A couple of shots of the outside. In warmer months, they have a Biergarten.
On weekends, Tshito-Gwrito opens at 3:00pm and stays open until midnight. The restaurant is closed on Mondays. Tuesday through Friday, Tshito-Gwrito opens at 5:00pm and closes at midnight; they will be open tomorrow for Easter. Our waitress, a lovely lady who eventually confessed to us that she’s half German, half Irish, said that tomorrow they will have Georgians and Armenians having their Easter meal there. I suspect there will be a lot of happy drunk people there giving super long toasts. Drinking and toasting are two other things the Georgians and Armenians have in common. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was also music and dancing.
A shot of the interior. The dining room we were in was rather small, though they appeared to have another room to the left as we walked in. We took a seat in a corner. We had plenty of room, since we arrived at just after 3:00pm. Two other parties were there with us.
Bill checks out the menu.
Our waitress spoke perfect English. She seemed slightly relieved when I told her I used to live in Armenia and, therefore, knew about food from the region. I’m not sure if they’ve had issues with people who don’t get the concept of food from the Caucasus region. Personally, I thought today’s food was outstanding… in fact, I don’t remember enjoying anything as much when I actually lived in the region. But then, that was was also the mid 1990s, which definitely wasn’t the best time to be in that area. Things have improved dramatically over the past 20 years or so.
We ordered a bottle of Mukuzani, which is a spicy, dry, red wine made from Saperavi grapes in Mukuzani, Kakheti. Mukuzani is aged in oak casks for at least three years longer than similar wines, which gives it a different flavor profile. This wine was delicious, especially after it had some time to open. The restaurant also offers Georgian wines by the glass and a range of beers and other beverages. They have “cha cha” too, which is basically Georgia’s version of grappa. I steer clear of it because it’s very strong stuff… reminds me of jet fuel.
The waitress explained that the restaurant prefers to serve the meals family style, which is also how it’s often done in the Caucasus. That worked fine for Bill and me, since we like to try different things. I hesitated when she recommended the Khachapuri, which is flat bread baked with cheese and other fillings. I remembered the super strong cheese it was served with in Armenia. The waitress set my mind at ease when she said the cheese they used was mozzarella mixed with a Georgian cheese. I resolved to try it, reasoning that Bill loves strong cheese and would finish it if I didn’t like it. We also ordered the spinach, which was basically like a spread made with walnuts, spinach, onions, pomegranate seeds, and Georgian spices.
Oh my word… I am SO glad we had the Khachapuri. It was delicious. It came out hot from the oven, with mild cheese that was not at all offensive to my sensitive palate. And that spinach was also amazing. Bill said my eyes lit up as I tasted it.
When you look at the menu at Tshito-Gwrito, in the back, you will notice a separate section called Vorbestellung. Basically, those are dishes you can order ahead of time. Today, they had several dishes from that part of the menu available. One of the dishes they had was Ostri, pictured below.
Basically, the Ostri was like a tomato based beef stew. The beef reminded me of very tender pot roast cut into chunks and mixed with the mildly spiced tomato ragu. It was served with slices of bread that could be used to sop up the stew. They also had a chicken stew.
And we also had Shashlik– marinated pork grilled on a spit and served with onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, and fried potatoes. The shashlik came with a cold tomato sauce on the side.
When I lived in Armenia, one of my favorite treats was xhorovatz (Armenian barbecue). It was basically meat on a stick cooked over a fire and served with vegetables and lavash. Shashlik was a lot like xhorovatz, minus the lavash. It was delicious! I will admit that getting through the last course was a challenge. I was getting full!
We took some time to finish our wine and water after we finished the shashlik, listening to the pop music and chatting with the friendly waitress, who confessed that the Georgians who own the restaurant are wonderful people. I am not surprised. That part of the world is renowned for its hospitality. I am hoping we can plan a trip to Georgia and Armenia before we have to leave Europe. I am dying to show Bill my old stomping grounds, meet up with people I know over there, and enjoy the amazing food and wine.
We finished up by splitting a Napoleon, which is basically a very light, crispy pastry filled with custard and covered with powdered sugar. We also had espresso, which came with a little glass of sparkling water. Napoleons are widely found in the Caucasus region and in Russia and France.
When we were finally finished after almost three hours, we owed about 81 euros. This was a wonderful meal and worth every Euro cent. We definitely plan to go back sometime, even though getting there isn’t that easy. The food is outstanding and the service was charming and friendly. Honestly, in a place where there are so many Greek, German, and Italian restaurants, it’s such a nice change of pace to have a meal in a place that serves something different. We didn’t have a single item today that we didn’t really enjoy.
If you’re in the mood for something different, I would highly recommend making the trip to Tshito-Gwrito. Many thanks, once again, to Stacy in the food and wine group! One of the reasons I started that group was so that we might all make new culinary discoveries! Today’s restaurant definitely counts as one of those! And now I can steer people to Russian food AND Georgian food in the Stuttgart area.