Posted by: seasin | October 22, 2009

Sofra Restaurant Sofia-a carnivore’s haunt

Restaurant Sofra, Ul. Oborishte 69 (phone 02/9445005)

Sofra is a Turkish restaurant. Now, the Bulgarians’ relationship with the Turkish is, to say the least and put it in a very, very diplomatic way, complicated. Personally, I love Turkish food. But because of that complicated relationship, there aren’t many Turkish restaurants in Sofia.

This one however is a gem. Especially for a meat-eater.

It’s in a little house on Oborishte, just at the crossroad with Evlogi Georgiev. It has a garden at the front which can be very pleasant during the summer, because several trees cast a nice shade and the street is reasonably quiet.

As many Turkish restaurants, it’s a no frills, no nonsense kind of place.

The service is correct but slightly “localised”-on one previous visit, DB had ordered some chips (french fries, to you and me the non-brits), which arrived, golden and hot and positively delicious (proper potatoes, peeled and fried to perfection in the kitchen, not frozen lazy-cook ones)…about 5 minutes AFTER we had finished all of our other food.

On the most recent occasion, I was there for a relaxed dinner with two girl friends.

The only thing that makes this place stand out is the food. The menu is simple and very straight-forward. Lentil soup in two declinations (yum, yum yum for both of them). A couple of salads/mezes (try the aubergines salad-stunning!); pides and meat. Several kebabs (Iskender is our favorite), absolutely flawless lamb (grilled in chops or minced in all sorts of Turkish ways) and my absolute downfall, grilled chicken wings. There’s nothing simpler and humbler than this part of the chicken. Yet to me, when it’s done right, it’s the absolute best part of the bird. Sofra is doing it right. You get, on a plate spread with tasty little mounds of side dishes (a grilled peppers salad, rice, some red onion, and a few other things that I can’t remember, because OBVIOUSLY!), about 8 glorious little bites of birdy debauchery. They’d been marinated, quite clearly, I don’t know in what, then char-grilled to a juicy, spicy, perfection. I ate (and normally eat) them like a barbarian, with my fingers, licking said eating implements for every hint of taste (licked them all the way up to my elbows), cleaning the little bones thoroughly, chewing the ends…disgracing myself utterly in the process. The only thing that prevented some really out of place moans of pleasure was the presence of my vegetarian friend, who was rather unhappy with her lack of choice. And the only saving grace was that my Turkish friend (yes, I was having dinner with a vegetarian AND a Turk-two big sins in the eyes of some of my Bulgarian friends 🙂 ), was eating her pide (turkish version of pizza) with her hands-as is the proper way to eat a pizza, according to me :).

The other highlight of the evening for me was the traditional Turkish bread-lavash. A small one is the size of the table (it comes in medium and large, too!!!) and it’s absolutely gorgeous. It arrives on the table hot from the oven, golden, puffed up, sprinkled with sesame seeds and perfect. I could actually eat only that for dinner and I would be happy.

It might look like I’m going to Sofra just for the wings and the bread-and that would definitely part of the truth. I do. But the rest of the food is equally tasty. And simple. And…well…tasty.

You might struggle a bit if you’re a vegetarian. They offer a couple of salads, the lentil soups, some apetizers and a cheese pide, to cater for those who don’t eat meat. But no main course. Not even a hint of fish or seafood (which some veggies won’t eat anyway, but my friend does). But for people with no dietary restrictions, it’s a good place to go for really tasty, simple dinner.

As for the prices-we had three lentil soups, one cheese pide, one aubergine salad, one portion of chips, one portion of grilled wings for piggy little me, one medium lavash-and one small (which we didn’t touch but ordered because we were greedy), one cheese starter (just pieces of cheese served in a strange way, with pieces of butter strewn on the same plate), some water, two teas and a turkish coffee. The bill was 44 leva. We tipped.

Do try it, please-even if you don’t care much for grilled chicken wings 🙂 and if you go and see someone disgracing the human race by displaying the table manners of a caveman (or woman)…that would be me.



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