Posts Tagged With: Georgian Bread brooklyn

Tone Cafe – The Republic of Khachapuri

tone cafe - khinkaliIn the black sea of Uzbek and Ukrainian eateries on Brighton Beach Ave, one can easily forget the avenue two blocks up, Neptune.  Like 10th ave in Hell’s Kitchen, 7th avenue in Sunset Park, these are the forgotten practical blocks.  As a visitor you tend to gravitate towards the hubs.  But when you live in the hood, this is where you fix your chipped tooth, visit your favorite tarot card reader, or get that pastrami sub from the deli guy that knows exactly how you like it.

These blocks often give birth to destination places that cant strictly survive on the people living nearby.  Whether its the elderly in Brighton Beach or the poor students in East Village, these are often not the demographics that can sustain such businesses alone.  The young professionals and actors that dominate Hell’s Kitchen for example call the entire city their neighborhood and rarely stay put.  Such are the challenges for places like Nano, Taboon, Hearth and Tone Cafe on Neptune Ave.

tone cafe - chanakhi


Tone Cafe is one of a plethora of Georgian eateries popping up all over the city in the past 5-10 years.  And just about all serve the formidable Adjaruli Khachapuri, a boat shaped bread filled with salty farmers cheese and egg.  The eggier and bigger the boat, the more Instagrammable the dish.  In Williamsburg a Cheese boat theme restaurant opened not too long ago called, you guessed it, Cheeseboat.  But what’s hip and cool in Williamsburg, in Brighton Beach its called Wednesday.

The Cheese boat in Tone is not only a feast for the eyes but a succulent combination of salty, rich, crispy, and gooey.  If you are a bread and cheese lover, you need to add this to the bucket list.  Right after Machu Pichu.  The Khinkali, the mammoth Georgian dumplings is another popular dish here.  But I’m finding them too doughy for my taste these days and would pass in favor of …

The Kharcho – A tart tomato based soup with rice, walnuts, lamb or beef, and spices.  You may not look at Borscht the same way again.  Its something you can find all over Brighton, but Tone’s version is cleaner tasting and pairs very well with winter.  Another popular starter is the red bean Lobio, cooked with herbs and spices, and  usually served with walnuts, and pomegranate.  Georgian food in a “nutshell”:  walnuts, pomegranate, red beans, a lot of meat and bread

Tone Cafe - Georgian Bread

If you are not quite up to the gigantic cheeseboats task, you also got the other Khatchapuris like the Imeruli, which literally translates to “Khatchapuri for whimps” or something like that.  Its a simpler cheese filled soft bread.  Or try the Chanakhi, lamb cubes slowly cooked in clay pot with eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes and spices.  Pomegranade can also be found inside their terrific sausages (Kupati) I discovered on a recent visit (about 3 hours ago).  The Kupatis are thick and juicy and can rival with some of the best German franks.  A similar but differently spiced meat is the Kababi which comes wrapped in thin Lavash bread.

Tone Cafe is a little out of the way for most of my readers, but Brighton Beach, one of the most unique areas in NYC, and miles more interesting than neighboring Coney Island should not be overlooked.  Remember kids, we travel to see different, and this is definitely different.  Same applies to the kind of service you’ll encounter at places like Tone Cafe.  You may see a 10% service charge instead of a smile.  You may need to wait 30 minutes for your food for no good reason.  You may need to Google how to refill your own water.  And chances are that you’ll hear this “Hi my name is Randy, I will be your waiter today.  Do you have any allergies today?” is zilch.  Because that part of town has no Randys!

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Georgian Bread in Brighton Beach – The Looooooove Boat!

AdjaruliIf only my parents would have taken me to Georgian cafes for some delicious Khatchapuri instead of staying home watching The Love Boat all those years.  Would I have appreciated it as a kid?  Not sure.  I know my youngest who went with us to one of those a few weeks ago, would have rather stayed home and watch the same Full House episode for the 25th time.  You realize that your kid watched a particular episode for the 25th time when you as a parent already know the entire episode by heart without actually ever watching it.  I’m still convinced that that is the reason our goldfish, Ziggy Jr. Jr. (not to be confused with our previous goldfish Ziggy Jr.) leaped to his death.  When you hear that music, when one of the adults on the show explains yet another life lesson to the kids, on an hourly basis, there’s just so much you can take.

Georgian BreadYou know the place is authentic when you are not sure exactly of its name. Georgian Bread?  Tone Cafe?  Khachapuri-R-Us?  Whatever its called, this Brighton Beach gem is worth the schlep, even while being a little out of the main babushka hub.  Lets call it Tone.  Tone recently renovated to transform a takeout place into a takeout place with a cozy, rustic, attached sit down with gorgeous views of the oven.  The only type of oven in NYC where you can say “gorgeous views of the oven”.  In a city filled with some amazing and unique bakeries, add Tone, or the Georgian bread place near you to you list.Tone Cafe - Georgian Bread

The main draw here is the Khatchapuri, essentially bread with cheese which can come in various forms and sizes.  But the one to get is the Adjaruli Khatchapuri, a boat shape bread topped with Farmer’s Cheese and an egg cracked open right before serving.  You then mix in the egg with the cheese and the result is a gorgeous feast for all senses.  The bread is hard, crispy and the perfect partner for that rich, runny mess you just made.Adjaruli

The Adjaruli is made to order, and can take as much as an hour to make.  Anywhere between 30-60 minutes to be exact.  And while you wait, you can either order other things, or drool over all the bread being made next door via the glass wall , or do both (RECOMMENDED!). So grab a napkin (something heavy duty and pretty.  Not what you got in the deli last night and saving them for a special occasion) and lets take a look at how they are making those other love boats, the plain ones…

Tone Cafe - Georgian Bread

Master slaps the bread inside the stone oven

Tone Cafe - Georgian Bread

Bread master prepares the bread

Tone Cafe - Georgian Bread

Mmmmm… come to Ziggy

Tone Cafe - Georgian Bread

Guy with the stick puts the bread into cooling area

We managed to eat about half of the Adjaruli because we were no longer hungry after pre-stuffing ourselves with the following goodies.  The best perhaps came first.  Lobio, essentially a sick red bean salad, with ground walnut, pomegranate and spices.  The perfect starter!  Imeruli was another form of Khatchapuri, this one being cheese filled soft bread.  Satisfying, although not particularly unique to us.  Mtsvadi, Shashlik (Shis Kebab) was a decent kebab.  The “Kababi” on the other hand, ground beef pork perfectly seasoned and slow cooked, wrapped in flat bread was fantastic.  Drinks available are the normal Russian fare including the sweet Pear Soda, and the Kompot (like a fruit punch), which the Russians like to dilute with vodka they carry in water bottles.

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