THE BITE: The Bite welcomes Sheepshead Bay Road’s newest business, and I think the only new business to open since Superstorm Sandy devastated the area: Georgian Cuisine Apani. Located at 1520 Sheepshead Bay Road, Georgian Cuisine Apani takes over the space recently vacated by Randazzo’s Sandwich Shop. If memory serves, that location has hosted five different food spots in the past five years. Let’s hope they can break the curse.
Georgian Cuisine Apani is a strictly take-out affair. You walk in and are immediately greeted with a large display case of the various breads and salads available for purchase. To your left is a large refrigerator offering various Eastern European drinks. You place your order at the display case, where it is then wrapped, and bagged. With a quick monetary exchange, and a friendly smile from the counter girl, you’re on your way.
For this first visit, I choose three items that seemed to represent the restaurant well. How do I know this? Well, they looked like they were being purchased with greater frequency than other items in the case.
Khachapuri Apani was described to me as cheese and bacon wrapped in puff pastry dough. The cheese in this case is suluguni, which is a slightly pickled, salty-sour, mild cheese that is common to the Balkans. The bacon, I’m not so sure of.I don’t know if Georgian cuisine includes pork, which is the most common source of bacon – but damn, it was tasty. The bacon was the dominant flavor of this dish, while the cheese added some needed snap. The dough was dense, chewy and slightly salty. While I enjoyed the dough, it was a far cry from the puff-pastry that an American is used to. The dough was closer to a very tender pizza dough and much more suited to the stuffing than puff pastry.
The meat pie ($2.00) was the only “bakery” dish displayed that did not have a Georgian name. My first thoughts were of a meat filling similar to a Jamaican beef patty, but the meat pie served here bares absolutely no resemblance to that other than it is a pie, made of dough and it is stuffed with meat. The beef was light and surprisingly fat-free. It was seasoned with very finely minced onions and some other spices, packed firmly – almost like a hamburger – and very mild in taste. The dough was the same dough found in the Khachapuri Apani.
Be aware, these bakery dishes get cold fast. Yes, it is winter after all, and unfortunately when they do get cold, they lose much of their flavor. Eat them quickly.
Last up is chicken salad with cabbage ($4.99 lb). Now this dish had me curious. I had experimented with a smoked chicken and Napa cabbage salad recipe over the summer and was surprised to see this in the display case. Chicken salad in this country is usually chopped, leftover chicken, with possibly some celery, onion, and/or carrot all mixed together, and some mayonnaise thrown in. I thought I was creating an original by adding the cabbage. Little did I know that this was a Georgian staple.
At Georgian Cuisine Apani, they take white meat chicken, chop it, add some shredded Napa cabbage, toss it with mayonnaise and add some pomegranate seeds. Then, they douse it all with an outrageous amount of salt. What a shame. They’re so heavy handed with the salt that it overpowers the taste of all the other ingredients, leaving only the pomegranate seeds to break the salt overload with their slightly sweet taste. Still, a unique dish served alongside some tasty baked goods.
So welcome to the neighborhood, Georgian Cuisine Apani. I look forward to trying more of your dishes in the coming months – just go easy on the salt.
Georgian Cuisine Apani, 1520 Sheepshead Bay Road (between East 15th Street and East 16th Street), (347) 462-4733.
The Bite is Sheepshead Bites’ weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.