The idea ought to be a winner - delicious Georgian cuisine, in a warm friendly atmosphere, with a great location a few minutes off Pushkin Square. Unfortunately, very little of the promise is delivered. I ought to say that on the evening of our visit, a large table of “VIP” guests was commanding the attention of the restaurant staff, and we struggled to get the attention of waiters. I’d gone with a Russian friend - the waitress conversed entirely in Russian with her, and ignored me completely - even having my friend “translate” for me (although my Russian is up to TV-interview standard). I found this extremely rude.
“Khacha Puri” (named after the famous Georgian cheese breads) is an informal cafe arranged on two floors, with a minimalist steel-and-glass design that avoids the usual cliches of Georgian cafes. Seating is cramped and hardly relaxing - the whole cafe is very smoky. There is some naff live piano music that conjures up the atmosphere of a funeral. The menu comprises a shortlist of Georgian classic dishes - rather shorter than you will find in most other Georgian restaurants in Moscow, in fact. Mostly these dishes are adequately prepared - but there is nothing at all special to justify prices that are averagely 30-40% higher than in other Georgian cafes.
We began with house-speciality cocktails - a Pomegranate Mohito
(290 RUR) that was refreshingly tangy (although not really much like a Mohito), and a rather horrible Grape Mohito
(260 RUR) which went undrunk after a few sips. We ordered a khachapuri each, and decided to share the rest of the dishes, in usual Georgian fashion. The Red Lobio
(bean salad, 270 RUR) was dry and lacked flavouring - the usual tart-plum sauce was missing. The same was true of the Eggplant Pkhali
(320 RUR) - obviously prepared by a garlic-hating puritan who was being parsimonious with the olive-oil. Considering that you can pick-up a portion of delicious pkhali from a Georgian deli for half this price, I was feeling very short-changed at this point.
The food took an age to come. In fact everything took an age, and we’d been sitting in the restaurant for forty minutes before even the first items (home-made lemonade 90 RUR, home-made Tarkhun soft-drink 120 RUR) arrived. There’s no evidence of any management in the restaurant. The Grilled Vegetables
(200 RUR) were very nicely prepared and presented - although they lacked some kind of sauce (of which Georgian cuisine has dozens) to accompany them. The Lamb Chops
(490 RUR) were excellent, and juicily delicious. We also tried a Salmon Khinkhali
(one piece = 90 RUR) - passable if unremarkable.
Finally the khachapuri cheese breads arrived - we took an Imeretian khachapuri
(one of the simpler kinds, for 190 RUR), and an Adzharian khachapuri
(240) with the traditional egg topping. Since these are the house speciality, there was every reasonable expectation that they ought to be good - and indeed they are, if a bit on the small side.
The service isn’t just slow - it’s shoddy. I had popped into “Khacha Puri” on a previous occasion (when they were nearly empty, at 10pm on a Sunday night) and had found the service brusque. This second visit was by way of giving them a second chance, but frankly it was no better.
If you’ve lived in Moscow for any time, you’ll almost certainly already have a favourite Georgian cafe or restaurant. I lived opposite one for eight years, and every visit was always a pleasure - smiling waiters, genial hospitality, great food, and a warm atmosphere. If those are your criteria for a Georgian meal, you’ll be sadly disappointed by Khacha Puri. I struggled to be more positive about this restaurant, but couldn’t find much to praise. After a long wait for indifferent food, we couldn’t be bothered to wait still longer for desserts or coffees, and left to have a coffee along Tverskaya instead.