Amsterdam’s only Georgian restaurant: Batoni Khinkali – reviewed
I realised as I started writing this article that not only have I not been to Georgia, but I’ve not eaten at any other Georgian restaurants either (the Georgian food scene not being very well represented in Amsterdam). So I am comparing Batoni Khinkali with… well, nowhere. You can therefore take this review with a pinch of salt and assume that while I don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m happy to give you my opinion on whether it tasted any good. Realistically, that’s all any restaurant review is ever doing – what with eating being a highly subjective experience – but this one is even less objective than most.
Secondly, I should mention that I’ve heard on the foodie grapevine that Batoni Khinkali is moving location as we speak. I’m a bit gutted about this: it’s been so close to my house for the past year (on Beukenplein in Oost), and now that I’ve finally visited it’s moving near to Vondelpark. So if you do plan to go eat there, please check the address before you head off.
But what of the food? I went to Batoni Khinkali as part of research I was doing for a budget restaurants article for DutchNews. And indeed, the menu is very wallet-friendly: this shareable board of three veggie starters comes in at €6 and is probably enough for two people. What you’re seeing are roasted aubergine and red pepper stuffed with a sort of walnut paste, and a ball of a lightly spiced red bean paste – all spreadable on the accompanying bread.
So far so good, but we were really here for the eponymous khinkali and the photogenic khachapuri. The former are the restaurant’s signature dumplings – steamed savoury dough stuffed with cheese, meat or mushrooms. The cheese dumpling was probably my favourite, being lightly dotted with fresh herbs; the meat version was a little watery, while we didn’t order the mushrooms. Two per person is probably enough to try, as the dough is fairly heavy.
If you’ve seen any photos of Batoni Khinkali before you visit, you’ll undoubtedly have seen this calorie-tastic dish of bread, cheese, egg yolk and butter. While it sounds like a heart attack waiting to happen, it’s extremely tasty and good value, too – you can split one khachapuri for €13.50 easily between two people. Start by stirring the warm, melting mixture in the centre with a fork; then rip the crust off at either end and dip it into the unctuous concoction. Dare I call it Georgian fondue?! For the vegans, there’s a version with bean paste and spicy pickled vegetables instead known as lobiani (on the left in the photo), but I’m going to be honest and say it’s not nearly as delicious as the dairy-fuelled original.
You’re unlikely to need dessert after that little lot, but if you’re in search of something sweet try the berry pudding with chocolate ice cream. Batoni Khinkali offers various Georgian wines too (red and white), which are worth a try; and there are some interesting soft drinks for those who are staying sober.
Dinner at Batoni Khinkali came to €26 per person, which was very good value given all the dishes we tried. The service was fine once it got started – although an unexpected thunderstorm put pressure on the seating situation inside. I expect the owners will be glad of a larger new location, since the Beukenplein restaurant was already bursting at the seams on the Wednesday night.
Have you discovered any other Georgian restaurants in Amsterdam? Let me know in the comments below!