Earlier this year, we took a deep dive into the bread boat of cheese, butter and eggs known as adjaruli khachapuri, a staple at Georgian restaurants and dream dish for many of us. And now there's a new restaurant that's built its entire ethos around the ultimate comfort food dish: meet Cheeseboat, which opens Friday in Williamsburg.
Unlike a lot of the trendy, chefy spots opening in the increasingly tony neighborhood, Cheeseboat's a family affair, with all hands on deck supporting proprietor Netty Davit'ashvili as she brings her vision of Georgian food, past and present, to reality. The former clothing designer's brought her mom Kate on board to oversee preparation of classic dishes like the khachapuri, chicken soup, homemade breads, and other comfort foods the family is eager to share.
"Georgians eat like Italians, there's always lots of food on the table," Davit'ashvili explained. "We like entertaining."
To wit, much of the menu is built around sharing, like the decadent cheese breads in classic and spinach flavors, which you tear into with your hands to dip into the molten core. Succulent Shkemeruli Chicken—which can also be served inside a cheeseboat, naturally—arrives in a simmering crock bubbling with a sour cream-fortified garlic sauce in which tender roasted chicken floats with herbs. Dunk in hunks of the restaurant's super fresh bread to sop up all the sauce.
Not everything's a cream and cheese bath, though you'd be forgiven for thinking there was dairy in the savory Chicken Soup, with a subtle anise flavor and the comfort power of 500 mothers. It's the recipe Davit'ashvili ate growing up and we'll all be running for it when the first of the seasonal colds arrive this year. A Vegetarian Trio Dip—eggplant, chargrilled onion and a superb spinach & herb are another great break from the heavy stuff, along with beets and goat cheese in a tkemali sauce, made with baby plums, white wine and spices.
Davit'ashvili says that Georgians are often referred to as "Children of Dionysus" for their love of great food and wine shared with friends and family. They'll serve Georgian varietals at the restaurant along with a full bar including Chacha, a strong Georgian brandy that'll be available as shots and in cocktails.
The space itself, which formerly housed neighborhood Italian/Latin spot Miranda, hasn't changed all that much under the new ownership. It's still cozy, with exposed brick and a dining nook for a large party. In the near future, Davit'ashvili hopes to tap artist Charlie Baker to create some whimsical wood art for the restaurant.
80 Berry Street, (929) 295-8401; cheeseboatbk.com
Cheeseboat Sample Menu by Nell Casey on Scribd