Reflections on Stripmall Eating
Monday, April 09, 2007
Location: 9309 Krewstown Rd., Philadelphia
Personnel: Erin, Catherine, Me
What We Ate: Fried eggplant with walnuts, Red bean salad with walnuts, Khinkali, Khachapuri imeruli, Chashushuli, Black tea with lemon.
Bill Total: $54
Observations: When we first arrived to this Georgian gem on Easter Sunday, the lights were half-on. The man vacuuming told us we could be seated, and that despite all signs suggesting otherwise, the kitchen would serve us. We then saw him make a phone call. Five minutes later, an on-call server showed up and explained she'd been there until very late the night before as people partied on the dance floor in back. Clearly, we'd come too early — or maybe just too late. Unfazed, she kindly helped us navigate the menu, suggesting the kidney bean salad slathered with thick walnut paste and fried podlike segments of eggplants tinged with cumin and cinnamon, also topped with walnut paste. We remarked on — but did not order — the $99 roast piglet listed under the entrees. Of our choices, there were two obvious favorites. One was the khachapuri, a warm focaccia-like bread stuffed with gooey imeruli, a salty white cheese. The other was the khinkali, puffy and pleated dumplings that burst open to reveal a juicy pork filling flecked with red pepper flakes. We were advised to top them only with black pepper, though our server said she'd give us sour cream if we really wanted. We didn't. We were comfortable, and sat for a few hours, admiring the original artwork on the walls. By then, the restaurant started filling up with families toting bottles of wine. A takeout customer came in and headed for the kitchen. Minutes later, he left carrying a tray draped in a napkin. Beneath it was the unmistakeable snout and ears of a piglet to go.