Gotvarnitsa – the gastronomic gallery of chef Georgi Boykovski and chef Velin Velikov
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Chef Boykovski and Chef Velikov reappeared on the Bulgarian gastronomic scene in their characteristic sparkling style, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. Literally a week ago, their Gotvarnitsa, in English meaning Cookery is already a fact and delights the gourmands of Sofia with their exceptional works. The full name of Gotvarnitsa in English means Cookery the Juniper and the Crow. The restaurant is located where restaurant Bagri used to be, which unfortunately closed permanently because of the pandemic lockdown in the middle of the year.
…. To the delight of the fans of the ingenious organic and casual interior of Bagri, Velin and Georgi have kept the style – the natural fresh moss is now present not only on the walls, but even on tables, paper lanterns and those resembling a beehive still hanging from the ceiling with discreet light. A very cheerful blue color has been added and so the embroideries, a favorite Bulgarian motif of Chef Boykovski, combine perfectly with the main yellow and green, bequeathed by the previous owners;
… .When it comes to such eminent chefs as Chef Velikov and Chef Boykotvski, there is nothing to expect from the plaiting but to be super sophisticated, beautiful, narrative and impressive. Not dishes, but canvases with pictures of food alternate as an exhibition in front of you;
We know Chef Georgi Boykovski from the fine dining restaurant Cosmos in Sofia, then he went to Antarctica, then to restaurant Bulgar in Sofia, then he opened the wonderful restaurant with progressive Bulgarian cuisine Karmare and finally he mixed up his miracles in Bagri. Lately he has set up his street food pavilion Messo in Quartal Food Park, where some very nice meatballs and sausages, escorted with chips with red pepper and a light chili jam can delight you on a warm sunny afternoon;
What is Quartal Food Park read in What is priming and how it took me to Quartal Food Park in Sofia – Part 1 and What is priming and how it took me to Quartal Food Park in Sofia – Part 2.
…. The menu of Gotvarnitsa is originally printed on a scroll tied with twine. Of course, it is small and meaningful. The fact that it is in such a temporary, easy to replace form suggests that they are ready to change it often, because in the minds of George and Velin is a volcano of gastronomic ideas that must be realized so as not to explode and make room for more of them.
…. When it comes to a cuisine of this scale, with the intervention of Chef Boykowski, prepare for all sorts of sensations, surprises, and sometimes amazing ones;
Characteristic of Georgi’s cooking style are combinations of crunchy textures, contrasting with delicate internal contents and fillings, as is the case with beef tongue. It is crispy on the outside, the meat is super tender on the inside. It’s the same with pork. And when we talk about the milk pie dessert, you pass along an oscillating curve of sensations from crispy cream chips, through soft milk ice cream to honey-thick caramel milk syrup;
…. The winter chocolate soufflé is not a flan with liquid chocolate inside, but a real spongy souffle that rises up, combined with a very velvety and thick hazelnut ice cream. This version of the soufflé, with a large dose of egg whites, which sometimes rises above the bowl, is very pleasant to the tongue, but in few places it is offered because it is difficult to implement and the risk of something going wrong is high. We went to one of the malls in Singapore several times, to a bakery café, to try different types of this soufflé.
…. If you want to drink wine by the glass, they may even open a bottle of good Bulgarian wine, which is super good. We chose Aplauz red wine with Melnik 55, by Villa Melnik. Of course, they also have wine in small bottles;
…. Chief Boykovski personally interprets for your the stories he tells on the plates. If you are curious, he can share what inspired him for a dish, how he makes it. Sometimes you can’t absorb all the information – so many techniques, mixes of flavors, reductions, foam, powder, emulsions, dehydrations, fermentations…. They have no end.
…. Traditionally, as it was and is still in Cosmos and as it was in Karmare, as it was in Bagri too, here you listen to Bulgarian music, non-traditional arrangements of traditional Bulgarian folklore.
Did you know that at the very beginning, when the emblematic restaurant Cosmos was established in Sofia, before Georgi Boykovski, the chef there was chef Velin Velikov. He set up the concept in the kitchen. But then things changed and the place was taken by his current partner. Chef Velikov has a hand in the creation of elite fine dining restaurants, which have won many awards from Bacchus magazine such as aEstivum and Rose in Burgas.
Movie watching time: 2:44 min.
The music to the video is by a wonderful Bulgarian indie band Outhentic. The song, “Razoral Dedo” is from their album Transparent Album. If you like this wonderful music you can have it in all your players if you download the album for only EUR 7.99 here. It is worth supporting them to continue making these wonderful arrangements and improvisations based on traditional Bulgarian folklore.
There are so many surprises in the aromas of Gotvarnitsa dishes that your mind cannot process all the information.
…. Smoked in gnocchi with mushrooms, sheep’s cheese and truffles – discreetly hidden in a mist of smoke, under a transparent cover. When you lift the lid, the aroma of smoke and a whiff of the products of the dish is spread. This first impression gives way to fragrant mushrooms and a mature sheep’s cheese in flakes. Gnocchi are the lining of this great dish, which hides another playful element – crispy toasted bruschetta.
… .Fresh smell in lovage sauce in the beef tongue, seasoned with a little garlic. It not only gives character to the aroma of this plate, but also makes it look like a picture on a white round canvas. In the same plate, on the side, modestly stands another story line – fermented vegetables that are uniquely delicious – slightly sweet, fragrant and crunchy. Georgi definitely knows how to make pickles!
…. Violets in Creme Brulee dessert;
…. A combination of pumpkin and tangerine in a pumpkin pie dessert. Just like it was in Karmare, the pumpkin is not what you expect. There the pumpkin was in the shape of a walnut, here it is in samosa bags, on a wonderful white cream and as a counterpoint, but not in color, rather in the aroma – tangerine sorbet.
Samosa is a baked or fried pastry with some filling, which has a pyramidal shape. It is typical of the culinary arts in the Middle East, South Asia, East Asia and parts of Africa.
… The most impressive in terms of flavors for me was the dessert Milk Pie. There are 3 types of milk- sheep, goat and cow. They have kneaded their breath so that they instantly carry you on to a field in a farm – you can smell hay, hear birdsong, buzzing bees, bleating sheep and mooing cows, you’re basking in the warm sun with a dreamy view of the clear blue sky. The play with textures is also unique. Horizontally-crunchy cream against a velvety delicate taste of creamy milk ice cream. Vertically – from ethereal cotton candy, to honey-thick syrup of caramelized and sweet goat’s milk!
One thing is clear about Gotvarnitsa- nothing in the plate is what you have seen, tasted and smelled so far. Although the basis is traditional cuisines such as Bulgarian, Italian, Asian, things are refracted through the creative vision of the two chefs, Chef Boykovski and Chef Velikov, and a very exciting product is obtained. Your senses are challenged in every way, your curiosity is raised to the max and you want to know exactly how these people came to such a perfect ultimate masterpiece.
…. Dinner at the Gotvarnitsa starts these days with leek pie. Of course, it’s not like the ones you’ve tried before. It represents bags made of crispy crusts with cheese and eggs filling, and on top there one of the traditional and favorite delicacies for Bulgarians – a thin piece of bacon.
…. My favorite Karmare parlenka (rolls of fried bread) are here too. The wonderful thing about them is that they are both crunchy at the end and very soft inside. They have one peculiarity- you eat all what you have been served of them. They are seasoned in 3 different ways – with herbs, with mixed seasoning and with olive paste;
… Leaf salad with chicken ballotin and some wonderful slightly spicy crispy chicken greaves! The vinaigrette has a superb, slightly sweet taste.
…. Red beetroot salad with sheep cheese and caramelized raspberries – the beetroots is first charred to become smoky, then pouched to soften, and so is the sheep cheese to make it more elegant and ethereal, and raspberries are caramelized in mannitol . When you eat them, after the first two crunches, the caramel shell melts in your mouth imperceptibly to give way to a soft raspberry aroma and texture. The beets are both soft and crunchy and slightly sweet to contrast with the salty tart taste of the sheep’s cheese. It contrasts with the aroma of raspberries. A complex chain of smells and tastes has formed and so many chemicals explode in your brain, that the synapses cements the memory of this salad forever.
Mannitol is a sweetener derived from fructose and hydrogen. Used in cooking for sweetening, thickening, emulsifying, against the formation of granules. It is also good for health.
…. The poached egg hides mushrooms and pieces of sausage underneath, so that it is slightly smoky and tasty;
…. Octopus with beans from Kurtovo Konare. I have never tasted such a well-made octopus, even in Greece. It is crispy on top and very soft inside. On the side, the bean porridge is terribly fragrant and very pleasant. A slight wink at Greek cuisine and its fava, which is also made from beans and served as an octopus side dish. And the big secret about the taste of the tentacle is that the bacon is melted on top. The dish is garnished with caviar balls, very crunchy to have a playful element again.
…. Dessert Bulgarian rose №9. Can you imagine, Chef Boykovski has previously created 8 versions of his unique dessert. I tried it for the first time in Cosmos restaurant. At that time no one had thought so skillfully to use the Bulgarian rose Damascene, in such an original way as a gift and message for the guests of Bulgaria from abroad.
The first dessert Bulgarian rose had a meringue, in the shape of a flower and had the same aroma. Here we have something very different. Version 9 is based not only on the aroma of roses, but also on the traditional Bulgarian popara breakfast.
Popara is very much like the English porridge but here it is made of dry bread, soaked with hot water, garnished with white cheese and honey.
Here we have a cake syruped with a consommé of roses, honey and quince, topped with crispy nuts and sorbet. The aromas are exceptional, without blocking your olfactory organ, but only to caress it, like a friendly Bulgarian “hello” or “see you soon”. I remembered Pasha Hristova’s song, “A Bulgarian Rose”. This dessert also sounds like the soft velvety voice of this legendary Bulgarian singer from the past.
It turns out that the rose is increasingly exploited as a symbol of Bulgaria in gastronomy and mixology. I recently tried such a cocktail at The Scene Rooftop Bar at Hyatt Sofia. Read about it in The Scene Bar is the grandstand and the stage is Sofia, Bulgaria. Recently I tried dessert, again with roses in Floret, the bistro of the Intercontinental Hotel.
Why the Damascene rose is such a symbol of our country, read in the publication: A short guide for the modern visitor in Kazanlak, the capital of the Valley of Roses, Bulgaria – Part 1.
The team of the Gotvarnitsa is very enthusiastic, everyone has taken to heart their mission to create a memorable experience for you. Everyone wears masks, but you see the smile in their eyes. They strive you to get real pleasure from food, but not only that. To be immersed in what is happening to you, to be curious to be surprised, to forget Covid and all worries. Cheers to all those people who may not be at the forefront, but strive to survive in difficult market conditions and create a small gastronomic holiday for us!
I asked many questions when I dined at the Gotvarnitsa, and I was answered all of them, however one question remained in my mind: which of the two chefs is Juniper and which is the Crow. 😉😆
How to get to restaurant Gotvarnitsa?
Don’t worry about getting to restaurant Gotvarnitsa in Sofia. Just use the Google map here by clicking on the red pin of its location and then select directions:
A: 10 “Dobrudzha” str, 1000 Sofia Center, Sofia
T: +359 88 930 6666
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 11:00-23:00
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