Metro Station: Saint-Germain-des-Prés or Saint-Sulpice (Line 4), Mabillon (Line 10)
Type of cuisine: Georgian
Days & hours of operation: Open every day from 11:00 a.m. until midnight
Credit card: American Express, Visa, MasterCard
La Maison Géorgienne is a gorgeous theme restaurant located in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés quarter. We entered here unsuspecting, and soon found ourselves dining like aristocrats!
The restaurant is spacious with four floors for dining. We were ushered to the top floor by elevator and found ourselves in a large room exuding old-world ambiance: large, cloth-covered tables—each set with a candelabrum; glass chandeliers; gilded-trim chairs with padded, beige cushions; and an inlaid wood floor. Save for the modern art on the walls, the room looked like a parlor where an old aristocrat might receive his guests.
Although the restaurant offers a number of fixed-price menus, we ordered à la carte.
For the apéritif, we each ordered a glass of Bagrationi, a Georgian sparkling wine. Priced at three euros less than French champagne, it was refreshingly dry and had a slight toasty flavor. We were so pleased with this wine that we ordered a second glass to accompany the meal.
For the starter, I selected the Stumari, a plate of finely-sliced salmon that had been marinated in tchatcha, an eau-de-vie distilled from grape pomace. Served with crushed avocado and red caviar, the moist, delicious salmon had a fresh, melt-in-the-mouth texture.
My partner selected the Soupe Tchikhirtma, a large bowl of hot soup containing bits of egg and parsley, and generous morsels of chicken breast. It was an appropriate dish for a chilly day. She was so pleased with the soup that she dared to tip her bowl to drain the last few drops into her spoon so that she could consume every bit.
For the main course, I thought that the Chakhokhbili au Lapin would be appropriate for the Bagrationi that I determined to continue drinking. The waiter produced a shallow, square bowl containing three morsels of tender rabbit that had been stewed with herbs in Georgian white wine. A molded, steaming-hot, carrot purée was served on the side. The rabbit and carrot purée were delicate, as I had anticipated. It was a dish fit for an aristocrat!
My partner’s dish, Tchakapouli d’Agneau à l’Estragon, was a stew of lamb that had been marinated in white wine and flavored with fresh tarragon. It was served in a clear broth in a glazed terra cotta bowl. A small serving of medium-grained rice with bits of yellow and red pepper was served on the side. The surprise for her was that the lamb had been prepared in white wine, not red. She found the dish to be quite flavorful, and was intrigued by the quantity of tarragon used to prepare it. The herb reminded her of the greens (mustard, collard, kale…) that she used to eat in the southern U.S.
Long loaves of warm, spongy bread topped with sesame seed were served alongside in a basket. This was a type of bread that we had never seen before—each loaf looked like a large, flattened sausage and vaguely resembled the shape of a boomerang. We had to restrain ourselves from eating too much!
Normally, I like to have a very sweet ending to my meal, but when I spotted Matsoni, a traditional Georgian yoghurt, on the menu, I thought that I would try that. A generous portion of the yoghurt was served in a yoghurt cup and topped with a spoonful of honey. The yoghurt was not consistently smooth as one finds in commercially prepared yoghurts. It was clotted and quite sour, but not unpleasantly so. Hooray for artisanal yoghurt!
My partner ordered Medogui, a four-layered torte flavored with caramelized sweet milk and praline. A layer of frosting separated each thin layer of cake, making this a delicate-looking dessert similar to the kinds that one is served at high tea in London
While we dined, we listened to a live performance by Elga Porchkhidze, who sang in Georgian, as well as in French and Italian.
The service was friendly and helpful.
The bill for two, including four glasses of sparkling wine, two starters, two main courses, two desserts, and one espresso came to 151.50€. Our lafourchette.com discount brought the price down to 90.90€.
We were pleased that our evening at this restaurant brought us into contact with the culture of Georgia, a distant country that we may never have the opportunity to visit.
Tom Reeves has been a confirmed Francophile since he first traveled to France in 1975. A native of northern California, he moved to France permanently in 1992. Reeves’ love of French language and culture inspired him to create Discover Paris!, a travel planning service that caters to Americans interested in cultural travel to Paris. His book, Paris Insights – An Anthology, has been called “the kind of insider’s view of the French capital…that first or even second time visitors pine for.” He publishes a monthly newsletter entitled Paris Insights about history, culture, and contemporary life in the City of Light, and posts daily information about the French capital on Facebook.