Posted by: seasin | July 13, 2009

Checkpoint Charlie Restaurant, Sofia

Last week, my little sister visited from Romania. I took her to Checkpoint Charlie, because I have this feeling that’s a great place for dinner with a girl friend (don’t ask me why that is, maybe because it’s channeling albeit in a very, very remote way my favorite place in Bucharest, the Balthazar.)

Now, the first time I’ve been there with DB, before my move to Sofia, I didn’t think much of the place and I even decided not to go again because of a typical Bulgarian experience with a waitress (of course, little did I know that was typical Bulgarian. I just thought that particular restaurant was nasty!). But, more because we were bored of all other restaurants than for any other reason (I’m not a forgiving person 🙂 I reluctantly accepted to go again a few months ago, and I was sold. Of course, it helped that we went there on a Saturday night, when they have live Jazz music on, and the place was full, with most of the patrons speaking some kind of a language other than Bulgarian. But as I said, I was sold.

It was quiet last Thursday, when I took sis there, but the restaurant has a very Zen vibe about it anyway (maybe it helps that it has no windows so you can’t see Sofia outside, and for an hour or so, you forget it’s out there. For a Bulgarian restaurant with Bulgarian staff, that’s quite an achievement, trust me!).

Service was very very efficient and correct, even if there was no smile on the face of the waitress at any point (maybe she was just having a bad day, let’s give her a break on the smile just this time, shall we?).

One of the things I like best at this place is the menu. It has some salads-but not just old boring salads-baby spinach with smoked salmon and horseradish cream, anyone? It has some Bulgarian classics. It has enough interesting things on so that you can come over once a month and not struggle for choice.

I went for spinach and courgette fritters served with a light fragrant yogurt and dill dip (there were two large spinach fritters, and two large courgette ones) for a starter, while my sister went for the banitza (she wanted something local). The banitza looked lovely, presentation was completely different from the grubby oily things you get in most places (it looked like a flower of filo, or an open parcel, with the cheese nestled in the middle). It came with a healthy dollop of nice yogurt, too. The portions are quite large, so if you don’t have much of an appetite, you might consider settling just for a starter, or just for a main. Greedy as we were, we also had a main each, which of course we ended up barely touching. Sis had the chicken breast with coconut milk sauce and risotto, and I had the veal scalopine with roasted asparagus. Very very yummy both of them, everything cooked to almost perfection, but I didn’t have better in Sofia since I moved here (with, of course, the very notable exception of UNO’s, but that’s in a class of its own) so I can call it Sofia perfection 🙂

We also had a glass of Bulgarian red each (my sis got the Merlot-she was asking for a sweet red, God bless her ignorant soul-and I had the Mavrud), both much much better than the average bottles one gets in most of the restaurants here. Don’t know what they serve by the glass, because you only get a choice of grape, not of label when you order like that, but well done.

As for prices-it can get expensive, but in our case, two starters, two mains and two glasses of red were 62 BGN. Plus tip, of course. Not bad at all, for really yummy food, pleasant athmosphere and service with no hick-ups.

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