, Sofia Restaurants by Lance Nelson

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Onion Bhaji starter

I am a huge fan of Indian food – so much so that I cook it regularly at home. And  that is why I had not checked out the new location of Kohinoor until recently. Curry cravings can however come on unexpected. And that is why a good Indian night out is needed.

Kohinoor is my first choice when in Sofia.

Back to my curry cravings. They struck this weekend.

I was nicely surprised at the new location – 7 Knyaz Boriz St. (near NDK). Got to it quite easily and parked right in front of the restaurant – a real treat in central Sofia.

Chicken Madras

A pretty house in a quiet street, freshly renovated with a beautiful garden area.

The interior is simple and friendly, there are two floors of dining rooms with windows (unlike the old place). The menu and the staff are the same as before, so the experience is consistently good but I think better because of the environment.

There is a separate small dining room and anyway the tables are not crammed close together as they are in virtually all the curry houses in the UK.

Vegetable curry with okra

The new setting makes Kohinoor suitable for all occasions – business dinner, romantic dinner, friends or family.

We chose a light white wine – as our host noted – white and rose go best with Indian food while red clashes with the its richness of flavours.

A proper menu with different meat choices (chicken, lamb, fish) including Tandoori and plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. There are also milder dishes for the unexperienced palates.

For starters, we chose a Chana Chat salad (5.50) – chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumbers and spices; the usual Vegetarian Samosa (6.20 lv)  and Pakora (6.50 lv).

Both starters came with a flavoursome mint sauce. We devoured them although we should have left more room for the mains.

Our meat dish choice was my favourite hot Chicken Madras (13.90). The vegetarian option we had was a Bhindi Bhaji (10.90) – okra in a thick tomato and onion sauce.

They come in special candle-lit pots that keep the food warm while we are enjoying our meals and chats.

Of course, accompanied by basmati rice and naans.

Portions are large and we could not eat them all. No waste though as our waiter kindly packed the remains for a takeaway.

Great value for money considering the prices are really reasonable.

There’s little I can say about the quality of the dishes – they are typical just as you would have them in any Indian restaurant in the UK. None of this “Bulgarian” Indian adapted dishes I’ve had in other places in Bulgaria.

No surprise there as I know the Kohinoor chef is Indian and the owner has worked in UK. In fact, I would venture that Kohinoor quality exceeds most of your local curry places.

I enjoyed my dinner tremendously. But an even better testimonial to Kohinoor is the fact that there were 33 Indian regular guests eating there on that night. A special mention to the fine white wine. The Villa Yustina comes highly recommended.

Villa Yustina

All in all, I would say: convenient location, perfect cleanliness, great food, cheap prices.

I noticed they offer home delivery to the whole of Sofia, which comes is handy.

7 Knyaz Boris 1 St.
Phone: 088 253 2541
e-mail: info@kohinoor.bg

Work hours:
Mon – Fri 12:00 – 23:00
Sat – 17:00 – 23:00


The Il Viaggio Semifreddo dessert.

Il Viaggio is a relatively new restaurant in Sofia in the Boyana district. It takes about fifteen minutes from the centre, around ten from the Hilton hotel.


It’s not only lunch

My first visit was for a lunch. And I think this is could be considered and everyday treat as it’s incredibly good value.

The chef, Louka Tsavo, from Greece, has brought a huge amount of experience to make Il Viaggio.  He has worked extensively in Italy.

My dining partner went for pasta, vegetarian mushroom Agnolotti.

Il Viaggio

I chose pasta with prawns. We were both happy with out choices.

The pasta was cooked al dente. My co-diner  immediately declared that this is best restaurant he had tried in Sofia. Praise indeed.

I was also surprised at not just the quality but that so many of the small details were correct. From the place settings, to the choice of cutlery and glasses. The quality of olive oil, the salt, and so on.

Sometimes you get lucky, but I was interested in to see if Il Viaggio could be consistent.

Pasta with Prawns at Il Viaggio

So the hard job of going back two more times was mine; before I felt I could be qualified to write this review.


Dinner time

A week later I came back to check this was not just good luck. This time I was expecting with a degree of anticipation the delivery of real proper four types of homemade bread rolls with Maldon salt and a high quality Italian olive oil. I always think that if the bread is good, then the mind is set to feel positive about the rest of the meal.

The Beetroot salad with goats cheese cocqettes and parmesan was my starter. Not the type of beetroot sitting in oil and vinegar in a jar, but obviously freshly cooked. Possibly the best salad I have had and is now the salad that I crave for again and again.

Other starters tried were the carpaccio of beed, with a poached egg on top.  A gastronomic experience and a starter that is easy to recommend.

The chicken was recommended. I have to admit being very wary of this choice.

I should not have worried.

The chicken was presented on a wooden slab; and this grilled baby chicken was succulent.

Have I tasted better? No, I don’t think so.

A moist French corn fed chicken and not unlike a poussin. Served with the lemon oil I was in foodie heaven. Never a better chicken in Bulgaria — or possibly anywhere.

The extensive wine list covered Italy, France, Chile as well as Bulgaria, The prices were much less than expected for a fine dining location. Wine by the half bottle was a sensible addition.

The semifreddo dessert is a classic and must be tried. A true signature pudding that is a crowd pleaser.

So the downsides? After the second visit I was struggling to find any, so a third visit saw me back.

Same great beetroot salad, great pasta and probably even better service than previous two occasions. For the standard of cooking, service and presentation, I was reminded once again that the the set lunch and dinner are excellent value.


Relaxed but upscale

A comfortable but upmarket feel is how I would describe the dining room. Music is unobtrusive. The place by the fish tank is a good spot to choose, It’s now my favoured table.

I may add that in the days of paid parking in the centre, that here it is easy to park — and for free. Summer dining in the smart garden area looks like it will make this the summer place to be seen; and to be seen in.

Overall il Viaggio shines the gastronomic beacon from Boyana over the whole city.

Three times over.

This review was echoed by a friend that I sent here. He was looking for fine dining for his family in Sofia. Because he works for a five star hotel and manages a restaurant, his opinion mattered to me. He came back with ecstatic praise.

So it’s not just me. It’s all the people I have been with there, so far. It’s a rare pleasure to be able to report that Il Viaggio delivers with consistency. I could taste that only high quality original ingredients were being used. From the oil and mozzarellas, to the meats means, homemade pastas and breads — it’s that rare pleasure of knowing that there are none of the usual tricks here.

Il Viaggio is exceptionally good value. Go there whilst it remains so.

So often in Sofia I find that paying a little bit more delivers so much more value than you would expect in other cities.

Il Viaggio reinforces my theory.

Now how many Sofia restaurants can claim that?


Reservation: +359 87 676 7647

Address: Sofia, 116 Aleksander Pushkin Blvd.
Working hours: 11:30 – 24:00

Email: viaggio.sofia@gmail.com




The Golden Apple

by lance1 on June 20, 2013

The Golden Apple

The Golden Apple restaurant, Lozenetz. A neighbourhood restaurant — the sort of place you would imagine stumbling across in London — probably Hampstead, or Barnes. Possibly Chiswick.

But it’s Sofia in summer and the sunshine is slowing everyone down, including me.

The Golden Apple interior

The Golden Apple's upper dining area

It’s early evening and its been a long day. Me and the girlfriend are starving. I pass the restaurant by on the one way street, searching to find a parking place here.  No matter, around the block we drive. Parked up, and by 7.30pm we were entering The Golden Apple.

Expectations are high.

Calamari on mash potato


First impressions

Through the front door.


The decor is like in house style. Smooth lines. As soft as the evening light.

The smiling waitress showed us a choice in tables. It was the feminine touches that my partner remarked upon. The pretty flower wallpaper and the placing of a cloth flower on each table that screamed romance. A first date here would start matters off well. The touches of Burberry style pattern on the chairs and tables contributed to an interior full of thought.

A welcoming first impression.



Fresh salad with grilled beef filet (9.90 lv)

The fresh salad with grilled beef fillet had everything in a parmesan basket. The parmesan basket is not just a popular “cheffy” touch, it really worked. Beef was tender and rucola peppery. All good.

The Mediterranean calamari (10.90lv) interesting and delicate and delicately flavoured. The calamari resting on the mash potato made this starter one I can recommend.

Octopus skewer on tomato sauce

Then it was octopus with a tomato sauce. The sliced octopus was on a rosemary skewer. The tomato sauce was great, to my taste the octopus needed a little less cooking.


Main course

The beef pepper steak (23.90 lv) came with little grilled zucchini (courgettes) with carrots and spinach inside, herb potatoes. All fine. The pepper and mushroom  sauce seemed a little thick.

Steak with pepper sauce

The steak however arrived “medium to well done”. I realised that on ordering I did not say I prefer my steak “rare” and I guess I should be to blame for not specifying.

But I will make this note that, typically, Bulgarian tastes are for steak much more cooked than the French or the Italians. For me, the extra cooking time makes meat less tender.

No matter, the flavour was very good.



The strawberry creme brulee showed off some sound cooking skills.

Creme Brulee

A nice burn on the top and fresh strawberries underneath this was one of the best of its kind I have tried in Sofia. Beautifully presented, just like all the dishes so far.

A special mention for stocking half bottles of wine. The Logodaj was well priced and overall, with the provision of tap water this is a restaurant that punches above its weight and meant a reasonable final bill. The professional and discreet service was maintained throughout the meal.

I will be back for more. With a little more attention to the cooking timing, The Golden Apple experience could reach new heights. I recommend it overall.

Great for a date, business dinner, or just a nice evening out with friends. Both the music and service are discrete.  The atmosphere is welcoming and conducive to making you feel at home. For me, it was a really great change from the too “modern” big restaurants so popular in Sofia.


The Golden Apple

37 Tzvetna Gradina Street, Sofia, Bulgaria

+359 884 165 652






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