The Bagebi restaurant of Georgian cuisine appeared at the Zurab Tsereteli art gallery in Prechistenka for one reason: one of the co-owners of the project is his grandson, the restaurant Vasily Tsereteli. It turned out to be really monumental.
The location of the Bagebi restaurant is somewhat reminiscent of the enchanted 9¾ platform from the Harry Potter books, which only a few see. You can get here by the door from the street, but the stunning neighborhood is confusing – Bagbebi is located between two historic buildings. The house No. 19/11 in Prechistenka is the famous Dolgorukov Palace built in 1788, now the International Exhibition Center of the Russian Academy of Arts “Zurab Tsereteli Art Gallery”. Nearby is the house at number 21, the estate of IA Morozov, built in the 19th century, where the Russian Academy of Arts now operates. Right between them, in the courtyard and where once there was an arched entrance for carriages, you can find Bagbebi.
The “Gallery of the Artist” restaurant has been operating in this area for many years, where one could meet respected academics from the Russian Academy of Arts, but a year ago, the restaurant and grandson of the artist Zurab Tsereteli, executive director of MMOMA Vasily Tsereteli and the restaurateur Andrey Telesh, known for the works of Moscow “Elardzhi”, Calicano, Ketch Up and St. Petersburg are called Grebeshki. It was decided to change the idea (so the work became Georgian), to change the design of the space slightly, but to leave the art – the murals on the walls of the arches have been preserved since the 1990s. The history of their appearance is connected with the reconstruction of Cathedral of Christ the Savior: part of the restoration work was carried out by a group of artists led by Zurab Tsereteli. They also painted the arches of the museum in Prechistenka: at first it may seem like biblical stories, but no – in the first room, the murals depict scenes from Homer’s Iliad, in the second – copies of the great Italian teachers. However, lunches and dinners in such an environment are considered a kind of mystery.
Room with murals based on the Iliad
The restaurant was named Bagebi in honor of the homonymous district of Tbilisi, where the house-workshop of Zurab Konstantinovich Tsereteli is located. The history of this house is no less amazing. Many, many years ago, he inherited it with his wife, Inessa Andronikashvili. Inessa came from a noble Georgian royal family, but in 1937 she and her sister were orphaned and raised by their aunt and husband, the famous Soviet artist Anatoly Smiranin, who played Robinson Crusoe and Amph. He gave them this house in Bagbebi for the wedding. The artist’s grandson Vasily wanted to transfer the warm atmosphere of the Georgian house Tsereteli to his new work in Moscow, making three tones: cuisine, wine and art.
One of the Bagebi rooms
Bagebi has many rooms that differ in design and atmosphere, but with essential works by Tseretelis from the family archive in Peredelkino, where the artist still lives and works. There is a central bar area with a counter, the coating of which mimics the qvevri in texture and color – clay vessels in which the wine in Georgia ages. Right there, behind the bar, there is a steep descent to the cellar, where once there was a pharmacy and now wine is stored (including Zurab Konstantinovic’s winery) and wine tastings are done. Behind a large mirror is a VIP lounge for small businesses, but the main area is a renovated, huge but still comfortable courtyard with a glass roof, two-storey stained glass windows and mosaics. Maybe hundreds of people can fit in this “Winter Garden”: it has its own bar, a piano, a small stage and even a movie screen. The interior designer was a young architect Katya Korchinova (Form of Chaos Office).
Bar area of Bagebi restaurant
The restaurant was headed by a young chef Nikita Verchenko (Cha-cha, Saperavi, Nani). The authors of the project explain this choice by the fact that they wanted to achieve a combination of traditional Georgian flavors and modern cooking techniques in the dishes. In addition, modern dishes have been added and the dishes have become more elegant, but do not worry: no one will leave hungry. The menu includes a variety of snacks (unusual – cauliflower satsivi with umami mushrooms, 510 rubles, various pkhali with marshmallow cheese Imereti, 540 rubles, cornflakes tortilla with quince guacamole and shrimp, 540 rubles). There are, of course, khachapuri, and khinkali, and lobiani, and kuchmachi, and soups, and chikhirtma (450 rubles) is next to the fish soup with snails, dogwood and smoked millet (590 rubles). For hot dishes – some kinds of kharcho, rabbit chakhokhbili, chanakhi with lamb and sweet potato, snails with white wine and tarragon and other dishes.
Dinner in Bagbebi
On the fire are cooked barbecue (from chicken, pork, fillet or beef rib), lula (from rabbit or lamb) and fish (country with feijoa sauce, trout in vine leaves). Ask them to bring it hot, do not miss it: the restaurant is big, the waiters run fast, but they may be slow to place the order in a hurry. If you like sweets, take a look at the dessert section, there is plenty to choose from. The chef plans to launch special kits each month that will introduce visitors to one of Georgia’s areas.
Well, what is Georgian gastronomy without wine: the map has a whole section with Georgian wines, as well as from the New and the Old World. In the list of bars, for which Artur Balayan is responsible (Jagger, Rolling Stone, Klava), you can find author cocktails, twists in national classics. But even at the bar, the counter is designed in such a way that it is comfortable not only to drink wine or cocktails, but also to dine.
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