Saturday, March 22, 2008

Day 22: Seven o'Clock Train to Georgia

Last night I had dinner with friends at Pomegranate, a Russian-Georgian (their modifier, not mine) restaurant on El Cajon Blvd. It's a small place, and I would have driven right by had I not spotted "PECTOPAH" in the window. I visited Russia in my youth, and the Russian word for "restaurant" is one of the few I mastered.

Inside, it was cramped and cozy, and the servers struck matches on the sides of furniture to light our table candles. It was dim, so I never really saw what I was eating, but it was all delicious. I couldn't really tell you what was in the food, since the menu descriptions ranged from saucy to poetic, but rarely mentioned actual ingredients. But who needs ingredients when it all tastes good?

We started with a vegetarian appetizer platter--six dishes we were instructed to eat "clock-wise" so as not to pound our palate to a pulp with the ever-increasing ratio of garlic to other ingredients. Mmmm, garlic. I'm not sure what any of these were called, but perhaps they were:

Ikra Badrijannaya: "The poor man's caviar. A vegetarian's dream of heaven when in hell." (Okay, I think I'm sensing some anti-Vegite sentiment.)

Georgian Eggplant Salat: "Try this dish once and your wife will never see you again...grumbling." (Now this one fascinates me. Your wife won't see you again'll be invisible? Or because you'll smell bad? And who will be or your wife? There may be a dangling modifier alert here.)

Later (much later--the service was, shall we say, leisurely) there were various main courses. I had some kind of meatballs with pomegranate sauce. Two of my companions ordered:

Shashlik - "It is said that this dish saved the accord in 1944 in Yalta between Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt." (I guess those guys really dug kebabs. And these were particularly good.)

Another ordered a chicken stew--perhaps this one:

"A strong Russian tea or a bottle of Cabernet will put you in a pensive mood. 'How wonderful the world is!' Allow approximately 20 minutes for us to catch a chicken first." (They had plenty of time, since someone else was out spearing the shashlik.)

Full, but determined, we split three desserts, including a yellowish layer cake, a hot chocolate-y cake, and a baked apple stuffed with stewed fruits. I'm not doing these any justice, however. Here are the menu descriptions:

Babushka's Surprise - (That naughty Babushka--what is she hiding? I think maybe prunes and apricots and sultanas, inside her warm, appley bosom.)

Napoleon Torte - "Escape with this sinful retreat." (More cream, baby. Seven layers of it.)

Zhukov Torte - "Overwhelms the defenses of all your senses." (Those defenses were down, let me tell you.)

Toad Sweat Ice Cream - "Not for the faint of heart!" (Actually, we didn't order that one. Our hearts are faint.)

I only wish I had finished like this:

Turkish Coffee - "Our Turkish coffee is black as night, hot as love, sweet as sin, and powerful as damnation. The perfect way to end your evening meal."

Oooh. Does anyone have a cigarette?


Mary and Paul said...

I want me a Turkish coffee!



p.s. Tonight was so much fun! Thanks again!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

My family has never encountered "too much" garlic. Sounds like a must-try.

Cheri said...

It's almost two in the morning, so this made me REALLY hungry!

Anonymous said...

Sounds fantastic! :) lix

Caroline said...

I love the menu descriptions! The mystery of what they actually are parallels the mystery of ordering in restaurants when I lived in Russia. No descriptions were offered, and when you asked the server what was in a dish, the answer was usually, "Oh, some kind of meat." You learned not to ask.

PECTOPAH and shashlik. I'm getting a little homesick. Study abroad sick. Something. ;)

Wonderful review!

smittenknitten said...

Oh, I love a good Russian restaurant! Thanks for the great review!

Sam said...

@Caroline: I'm cracking up about "Oh, some kind of meat." That actually happened a couple of times! :)