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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.
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.
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.
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
Mon – Fri 12:00 – 23:00
Sat – 17:00 – 23:00
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.
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.
So the hard job of going back two more times was mine; before I felt I could be qualified to write this review.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Osteria da Rado is now home to my favourite pizza is Sofia and some of the best Italian cooking to be found here in Bulgaria’s capital.
Rado, the owner, is not just a fascinating and gregarious gentleman, he shares his passion like no other.
Read on for more about Rado, his background, his passion and the food.
Rado, the inspiration
Rado spent many years working in Italy. Ok so this is one thing — but having your whole DNA changed from Bulgarian to Italian is quite another thing.
Rado, so refreshingly for here in Sofia, understands the importance of the finest ingredients. Real mozzarella, proper Italian flour and so on. So I can now say that if you find better pizza in Bulgaria, then let me know. Whilst I have not been to his place Pizzarado in Varna, I am assured it is of equal quality.
This is the best I have tasted — and by quite a margin.
The dining experience
But back to Osteria da Rado as a place.
We were given a warm greeting and offered a choice of tables.
Spacious seating tasteful glasses and cutlery. It’s the small details that count. An alternative dining area looks perfect for a more intimate, or private dining occasion. I ordered a little bruschetta to satiate the apetite. Very nice.
Rado explained not only his many awards and role as an international pizza competition judge, but he has partcipated and helped in the start up of many restaurants in Europe — Russia, France and Italy.
Three words sum up Rado… passion, passion, passion.
A refreshing change here with an extensive selections of 200+ wines. Wines are properly stored in temperature controlled cabinets with clear glass doors.
A choice of fine wines from Italy, Portugal, France, Spain, Chile and Bulgaria make this a winos destination par excellance.
Pizza for all times
I took a look at the preparation area. Modern pizza ovens, fresh ingredients.
Nothing to hide.
So no problem making a small request…
…a vegan pizza to exact order.
Delicious, even without the key ingredient of mozzarella.
The Napolitana, like all the pizzas, had a proper crisp base. Tastes fresh. A generous application of the chili and herb olive oils made for s slice of pizza heaven.
Just to prove that both this, and the real homemade ice cream, are worth leaving space for.
Osteria da Rado
4 Golo Bardo Str. Lozenetz, Sofia
+359 887 872 695
Hotel restaurants, some are noteworthy, but a hotel restaurant does not spring to mind as the first choice for a meal out in Sofia.
But then again, when you hear that the kitchen is directed by ex-Sheraton chef Ventsislava Vircheva, then it was time to make the effort . Withe high expectations it was off to see what all the fuss was about at Bijou, the restaurant at the Silver House hotel on Simeonovsko Shosse.
Bijou, located in the Silver House hotel, is in a busy business area, just opposite the Sofia Zoo. It’s not that far out of the centre and very convenient from the southern ring road. Plenty of parking spaces makes arriving by car a non issue.
First impressions count
The reception area of the hotel lead us into the Bijou dining room; a spacious area with contemporary wooden walls and tastefully understated Christmas decorations.
Unobtrusive sums up the background music – and that’s a good thing.
With the steady march of tables moving ever closer together, it’s good to see that that in Bijou they are placed at a discrete distance from one another. Who needs your every word uttered being eavesdropped upon?
So a tick in the box for business meetings.
Courteous and polished service saw us greeted, and seated, with a smile. A quick delivery of bread and dips and I’m now looking at the menu with plenty of interest.
You can tell a lot of thought has been put into selecting the menu.
It’s diverse, but not too long. Enough for different tastes, and a nice balance between Bulgarian and international cuisine. We found some traditional Bulgarian dishes like Shopska salad and chicken and pork skewers — but they were not what we came for.
The menu starts to reveal Ventislava’s international dishes with modern presentation. Feeling hungry I was tempted by the beef pepper steak with Swiss potato rosti and brandy sauce. Then again, the chicken rolls in bacon in dried tomato sauce and olives looked good — just like the walnut chicken fillets. So in my usual indecisive mode, I chose something rather different…
A salad is a salad
No, not really. Here the duck fillet green salad saw tender duck balanced with fresh leaves and dressing. Quite memorable.
The grilled vegetable salad with cheese was also appreciated by my partner. Prices of salad range between 8 leva and 10 leva. Fair for the amount, and the quality.
Pork and fish wonders
For my main, the pork knuckle served on roast cabbage with home-made potato and bacon chips proved to satiate my hunger.
The fish menu looked especially good. And I got to taste the sea bass with herb and lemon sauce. Cooked to perfection and heartily recommended.
Both dishes cost 15 leva each, which is considerably less than you would pay for the same quality anywhere else.
Vegetarians have not been ignored, with some there non-meat starters that I hope to try on another visit.
The wine list contains a selection of the main Bulgarian wines, and also some popular foreign ones.
As a strong believer in local wines, we chose the Kalo Ioan 2008 red by Light castle winery – a wonderful blend that I had tried at the DiVino wine tasting for the first time. This winery is a reliable choice, and you can choose from their whole range in the Bijou restaurant. Special mention must be made for the care to decanter a half bottle. A small touch that gained more points for Bijou.
Another red on the menu is Pitos (31lv) from the Dragomir Winery Estate. Probably my favourite right now.
The wine list is well chosen and delivers superb quality wines for modest prices. What is more, you will have it professionally decanted and served.
Pudding. The creme brulee substituted the caramelised crust that fresh from the hands armed with a blow touch with a nut topping. Good, but not quite hitting the mark of the previous two courses.
A nicely decorated and arranged big table at the other end of the restaurant made me think this is a place very suitable for a company or family Christmas party; cocktail or a wedding.
If you’re staying at the hotel, look no further for your dinner. If you’re up for some proper cooking, then Bijou is well worth the trip.]]>
It’s grey, little known and we grow to like it. Yes, I am talking about Sofia. A seemingly unpromising Capital city. Is this the place to stay? Read on for how to stay in style. Oh and ignore that communist era greyness that lines the road from Sofia airport.
But giving Sofia a miss is like crying off on a party you had an invitation for. So I’ll stick my neck out, and say Sofia is THE up and coming place to be in Europe.
With five shopping malls, and three new malls well under construction, some have huge confidence in the City’s future. I am one of those.
Right now, I’m feeling a renewed vibrancy and confidence in the air. New IT jobs, low personal and corporate tax bring some real attractions for both business and individuals being based here.
Unleashing my Sofia
There has never been more reason to visit Sofia. For music lovers the program is astonishing. Take, for example, The NDK (“The national Palace of Culture”). It’s located just off Vitosha street — one of my favourite places streets lined with cafes, shops, bars and clubs.
NDK hosts world renowned classical, folk and popular artists. Like my favourite, violinst Vasko Vassilev and the hugely popular all girl classical ensemble, “Bond” Both play here over the coming weeks.
From Classical and Opera, at the Opera House, to a weekend rock festival headlining Guns n Roses Sofia has long since emerged as a key place to perform.
City centre hotel apartments
It is somewhat fitting to be I took time out to review apartment accommodation that is well suited for those wanting a city base. Any savvy traveller knows that City apartments offer much better value that a hotel. Just like they often do in Bansko.
So I took a look at some city centre apartments in the heart of the city. The first one Allegra, a business apartment, just off Vitosha Street on the quiet Knyaz Boris Street. One from a selection of central apartments from rentapartment.bg.
In literally two minutes walk there are over fifteen bars and restaurants to choose from. The cafes lining Vitosha Street are a joy to sit at and people watch. Or just stare at the snow capped Vitosha mountain which the boulevard gets its name from.
What makes rentapartment.bg different from other websites is that that for longer stays they come and do a clean every four days. All included in the price. In addition, all the apartments are owned and managed by the same people.
Equipment in all apartments were impressive.
Nice touches in all apartments are the provision of both filter coffee machines and an espresso machines. I found proper kettles for tea making. All the kitchen utensils. Washing dryer machine. Dishwasher. Air conditioning, toaster, fridge and a spacious bathroom with a Jacuzzi bath.
With a computer with fast internet access. The Allegra apartment makes perfect business sense. The internet phone means phone calls cost from €0.01 per minute.
For relaxation, the 200 channel cable TV is yet another indication that the owners really care about guests. Not only are they making sure the stay will be comfortable but also that they will recommend it — and return again on a future Sofia visit.
I have no hesitation in recommending the apartments on rentapartment.bg as bargains. With Sofia is full of surprises. From shopping, eating out, to music and culture you’ll have more cash to spend on having good times in Sofia.
NOTE: I compared apartment prices and could not find anything of the same size for the price of similar size and standard in this central location.
NOTE: I NEVER recommend something I have not experienced, seen and liked.
Per night: 30-69 EUR
Per week: 455 EUR
Per month: 930 EUR
Rentapartment.bg for more info]]>
Cherga means a Bulgarian colourful hand-woven rug. You will see a lot of these if you enter “The magic of chergite”.
Chergite is out of the centre, in a peculiar areas called Students town and hence the young party people all around. A taxi from the central Sofia should be no more than 10 leva. The restaurant is easy to find.
Why go there?
For me, it was the craving for traditional Bulgarian cuisine. But actually my evening delivered rather more than sampling local dishes.
Dancing and mingling with the local crowd – well, this is what travelling is all about. Casting my eye over the prices saw me do a double take. They’re so reasonable it is enough to make you want to stand up and join in the dance for the horo.
This is the real deal – you’re not a visitor or a tourist here.
The restaurant interior is designed as an old traditional Bulgarian house. Rugs all around, wooden furniture, an open furnace. Me and my girlfriend are feeling warm glow after the arctic temperatures outside. Warm smiles, and we were taken to our table. Then after being recommended several different meals, all this in perfect English, we settled into the atmosphere. A very hospitable start.
The menu is very big as it covers meals from almost every region in Bulgaria. You risk getting lost in the typically Bulgarian names so ask your waiter for advice. But read on for my top recommendations.
You can’t go wrong with any of the salads – prices ranging from 4 to 7 leva. Shopska is always a safe bet, but I’d give the more interesting ones a go. I was very happy with my Selska salad (4.50 lv) and Chergite salad (7.50), which has a selection of nice dips.
However, salads you can have anywhere. Bulgarian home cooking is what we need. Cabbage leaves (rice and meat wrapped up in a sour cabbage leaf) or stuffed peppers (red peppers stuffed with beans) were all the best I have ever tasted. Melted Bulgarian cheese with honey looked worth a try too too.
Preparing beans is in art form in Bulgaria. These slow cooked butter beans in a copper pot with spices, which go to together like gin goes with tonic with chilly peppers. The presentation of these was amazing:
Although the above starters (all ranging from 4 to 9 leva)were enough to make us full, we were also offered another typical Bulgarian mezze – Katino meze (beef in tomato sauce with onion and peppers).
By any means try and slot in some bread with your starters – a real winner – made on a wood grill – plain or with cheese (1.60 to 2.60 leva).
All that was really tasty and substantial. But we had to try the other typical Bulgarian main –chicken, pork and veal pieces and vegetables on a skewer roasted in the fire. If you like me prefer the meat rare, have in mind that in Bulgaria they make meat very well done, so indicate your preference in advance.
There are all kinds of meat, including fish, most of them cooked with vegetables and in the fire. Prices ranging, but rarely above 10 leva.
Again some typical Bulgarian desserts, the most popular of which home-made buiscuit cake with honey (3.60 leva) or ox yogurt with forest fruit jam (3.40 leva).
While enjoying your dinner, there is a band with singers in the background (starts at 8 o’clock) and plays Bulgarian songs. Not too loud and discrete – they do not impose themselves on your table waiting for a tip like in other tourist places.
A dancing show starts at 9:30 – ensemble Chinarite – 4 young enthusiastic dancers in costumes performing on all kinds of music from Bulgarian folk music to Spanish. Again, nice and discrete. All the Bulgarians around got very excited by this performance, stood up and danced as well.
Well, I thought, if the locals find it such fun, it must be.
Authentic Bulgarian food and show, great prices, young diligent staff and a manager who is making sure everyone is happy. A nice garden for the summer.
No no-smoking area – smoke was OK only in the early hours (7-9). A bit far away from the centre.
Great value for money (20 leva for a big 3-course meal), worth the trip.
Sofia, Studentski grad, block 60
Work hours: 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.
tel. 0879 990 903]]>
The need for a traditional Bulgarian mehana restaurant requires an all out mehana experience.
And this means loud folk music and a party atmosphere.
Sometimes it is the food that draws you to a particular place, and sometimes it’s the need to have a venue to accommodate a bunch of guys requiring good tasty food.
They pride themselves in greeting guests according to old Bulgarian tradition – a warm welcome with homemade bread – traditional SouthWest Bulgarian recipe. Free for every guest. Settling into the evening now.
A non-smoking area on the second floor was offered too.
We kept it simple.
A good choice of chopped tomatoes, aubergines and peppers, dips and simple and communal grilled meats and vegetables. All salads seem nice and good price – (4-5 leva).
If you are very hungry, there are much more interesting typical Bulgarian starters, such as calf’s tongue.
Roll out the cart
And that’s what is delivered. A cart full of fine grilled aubergines, chips, chicken and sausage. Nice flat bread included as well. Enough to feed 5-6 people (73 leva). Interesting presentation. If it’s too much for your company, you can choose from a wide range of Bulgarian meat dishes, such as satch, grilled pork or some of the season’s specials.
Now, I have to confess, that when I am offered home made wine in Bulgaria I make some polite excuse.
Maybe just bad luck, but I have sampled some truly horrendous substances that are passed off as wine. Sour, and oxidised, red stuff turns into nectar when it’s the fruit of one’s own labours. One’s judgement is clouded and all seems somehow okay when it’s homemade – obviously with some exceptions.
The usual homemade offering is however organic and natural. But undrinkable unless it’s the fruit of one’s own labours. This does not cut the mustard. However, we were “sold” the concept to try the restaurant’s home made wine.
Well, whilst no Enira, it was perfectly acceptable. Great value too. I must learn not to judge a book by its cover!
The cartful of meat did not leave any room for a anything sweet, but I spotted some interesting ideas on the menu – strained yoghurt with green figs (3.60 leva) or pears in mil-caramel syrup (5 leva).
There was a band and a singer playing Bulgarian folk songs., starts at 8 o’clock. A bit too loud for me.
Hearty authentic meals, big quantities and reasonable prices. Full of locals, which must be a good sign. Nice staff. Go if you want to have lots of Bulgarian food and music.
No non-smoking area, loud music after 8.00pm. Not central.
Studentski grad, opposite block 58
Work hours: 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.]]>
Sofia real draught beer is here. It is in an oasis called Pre Kmeta (“Mayors Pub”). Real beer and microbreweries are rare in Sofia. The big brand beer corporations dominating the market has been the norm for many years. The taste of beer is due for a big change in the beer drinking world in Bulgaria.
UPDATE: NOW CLOSED
Pri Kmetra (“Mayor’s Pub): A Beer Oasis
web site: prikmeta.com Daniel Nikolov; phone: 029813399; 0899830764; email: email@example.com; address: 3 Paris str., Sofia.
Pri Kmeta (“Major’s Place”), is located just off Raikovski on Paris Street, close to Alexander Nevski Church. The beer is the star here and it seems a shame on a few other places are supplied the beer brewed here. A quick tour of the brewery was fascinating, but I confess to my thoughts wondering to what the taste of their beer would be like.
I was not disappointed.
The“red beer” was particularly noteworthy. It ia pale ale style and, like all their beers, is unfiltered and unpasteurised. There are four beers, three were on tap on my visit. All are street ahead of the mass produced brands.
Service was helpful, although a little more info on the beers from the waitress would have been welcome. Or just a more in depth description of the beer on the menu.
The upstairs part with its simple wooden seats in a conservatory, looked in need of a refresh. Functional; rather than cosy.
A large 50lv beer keg with your favourite real beer to take away. Good for a home party.
On my visit I felt there were some areas for improvement; more beer information from both the menu and from the waitress would be good, a shorter menu . The beer tour was worthwhile. The BTV story (see http://youtu.be/_9u-oCWLkP4) tells you what you need to know.
Walking downstairs, Pri Kmeta has an English pub like interior. Due for a refit or makeover — but come here for a decent beer and you will not be disappointed. Investment in Pri Kmeta will make it the place it so richly deserves to be. For the beer, this ia my favourite venue in Sofia. Highly Recommended. 18/20 for the beer, but overall 14/20.
The Bulgarian beer market is ready for change. More interest is being taken in beer, so it is good to see Philip from beers.bg bringing over fine UK, German, Belgium beers to Bulgaria.
Indian food and Bulgaria. Kohinoor. Not a combination that most would think of. But this time I could not ignore a recommendation that has come by me so many times.
And it’s not often that a recommendation is so understated as the Kohinoor Indian restaurant in Sofia. Booking was required a few days ahead for a Friday evening.
Heading downstairs to an inviting dining room, a nice harmony of warm lighting and intimacy opened up. An almost perfect balance between Indian ethnicity and modernity.
Some dining rooms just work and some don’t.
This one from Kohinoor works so well.
All of us in a our group of four were visiting Kohinoor for the first time. Rather crucially, apart from me, all were Bulgarian. And whilst three of us are enthusiastic about Indain cuisine in general, the fourth, Mladen, less so: but was open to give it a go.
Service with a smile
Alexander, approached us with smiles and a warm welcome. A sense of anticipation descended. Well I had a curry salivation moment — you know the feeling?
More below about how Kohinoor came about through the owner spending years in the UK — and falling in love with the British national cuisine of curry.
After explaining that the garam masala is made by the chef himself. Ground from spices sourced, in the main, from London, my mouth was watering even more in anticipation. It had been a long time since I had a curry. Two weeks is a long time for me. And much longer since I’ve tasted anyone else’s curry except my own.
Starters with a difference
Sometimes making a food decision is a step too far. It was one of those evenings where I was more than happy to be lead by Alexander. A good move.
The vegetable Pakora aubergine (egg plant), onion potatoes, peppers, squash . Not something I would normally order as toom uch greasy onion does not sit well on the stomach. These were light, and accomapanied the popadoms ( 3.50lev) includes raita and chutney. Nan breads 1.50 lev to 3.0 lev
A spicy mixed main
A chicken madras (12.90 lev), tandoori chicken (11.90), dahl makhmi (8.90 lev) reshmi kebab (11.90) were all nicely presented on warming lamps. Pilau rice (6.50 lev) The recommendations were all good. Perhaps another time will be trying the prawn or fish. But no regrets on the feast that lay before us.
In simple terms if you picked twenty Indian restaurants in London, and if this Kohinoor was amongst them, you would rank this Sofia Indian restaurant in your top three. Maybe it’s because Indian food is not so well established in Bulgaria, but these guys impressed me. Alexander, made top recommendations and we went with all of them.
About the owner
Now 32, Bogomil, (“Booggy”) went to UK for four years. He went to the UK to study “A” levels, St Edmonds College. Herts. He then went on to Brunel University to study Economics and Finance.
After taking a two year break from the UK in Bulgaria, Boggy then studied for a further 2 yrs at the University of Portsmouth. In all his times in the UK visiting the local curry restaurants was a favourite past time, and his taste for all things spicy developed as did his passion for cooking in general.
By 2007 there were only two restaurants left in Sofia. Boggy always wanted a restaurant and it so happened after one evening after taking some friends to an Indian restaurant in Sofia he realised, from his time in the UK, that it Indian food in Sofia should be so much better.
In Feb 2008 rented a premises and opened 31st March 2008. He needed an Indian chef so he contacted the Indian Embassy, and as luck would have it there was an Indian chef, living in Bulgaria for 14 years, who was keen for work.
After the first demo meal, all was not so good. But after much fine tuning, which continues to this day, with regular menu updates the Kohinoor formula worked.
The Kohinoor: name by coincidence or destiny?
The Kohinoor name was suggested by the wife of the then incumbent Indian Ambassador.
Boggy went back to his favourite Indian restaurant in Uxbridge recently. And then a shock when entering his local curry restaurant of those past years. The name, not something you remember whein it known as the curry house, was called Kohinoor. Such a shock. A coincidence!
So Kohionoor continues to thrive with a very loyal following from all new Bulgarian converts mingling with Indian students from the US, studying medicine in Sofia.
Fresh clean flavours, great naan breads, proper hot madras, ambiance and impeccable service.
There are two tables where the reception from Globul mobile operator is no good. I’m nit picking. But who want to be on the phone when the food is this good?
7 Kniaz Boris I Str, Sofia
+359 88 253 254 1