Starter at Bistrello, Sofia, placescases.com

The sunny cuisine of restaurant Bistrello meets Bulgarian sunny wine from Sakar, Sofia

Bistrello score by the 5D Sensograph of placescases.com: 4.8 out of 5.

January 2019








We joined for an evening with a tasting of wines from South Sakar, but actually I think the accent shifted to tasting of the master culinary skills of the new Chef in  Bistrello, Vladimir Todorov. Only a few tables were occupied by wine fans, the others were filled with a la carte visitors. The place was full, in the middle of the week and there is definitely a reason.

Chef Todorov’s cuisine has good ideas, it’s perfectly executed, well plated and presented, and tasty.

From the wine the most interesting was a very unconventional rosé and a Private Reserve Cabernet Franc, but you will read about them a bit later.

See ….

…. The interior of the restaurant is very pleasant, not loaded with many details, with simple and very pleasant accents and is definitely cozy;

…. The hard work of the team in the kitchen– the latter is open and you can see them cooking and plating. I asked the waitress if I could take a picture of them working hard, but Chef Todorov did not agree to document them exactly in their full swing. I guess they experienced quite a lot of stress by preparing both a variety of dishes from the tasting and for the a la carte consumption. If I’d gone to take pictures without showing ethics and asking for permission, they wouldn’t have banned me, but I could have bothered them, so I stuck to some protocol. They invited me to shoot when the cooking was already over, but I succeeded to catch the plating of the main course. It looked delicious. 

…. With the first starter, which was not included in the “set list” of the evening 😊, we were pleasantly surprised with the vision of a nest of straw and egg in the middle. A wonderful sunny farm start! 🌞 Espuma (foam) of potatoes, in marinated yolk, with crispy pastrami bits, a little truffle and finely chopped chives, placed in an egg shell, so that they look like a content of the egg. Very impressive start. Bravo for the opening scene and the staging by Chef Todorov! He definitely set the audience up for an interesting culinary spectacle. I will mention this appetizer later again, with the other senses, because, besides vision, there was also a nice feeling.

…. The reddish dense hue of rose wine by Ivo Varbanov, Scaramush Mareselan and Syrah 2013

… One idea more light in the room would be only in favor of the creations by Chef Todorov and his team. Wine tasting also needs light to better see the tint of the wine. The device of the human eye is such that the colors, their nuances and contrasts are captured only in the presence of sufficient light. It’s a little muffled here, and the photos didn’t really come out very good.

Feel ….

…. Once more the appetizer with the nest 😊. Very pleasant opposition of crispy pastrami bits against the ethereal airiness of the Espuma;

…. After the great first starter, another very good, crispy thing called “Charcoal from Balkanbas” followed. No, we haven’t eaten charcoal, but rather an exotic and very interesting dish. Tapioca, which is prepared from the root of the cassava (also known as Yuca and manioc). It was rolled lightly in a burnt red onion ash, giving it a slightly smoky aroma, and on the sides there were drops of aioli mayonnaise and a splash of tomato puree. I loved it!

A white wine from Dimyat accompanied the dish, which unfortunately did not leave a vivid impression in me. On the nose was a little petroleum and apple, an idea chalky, but after tasting, it did not have a memorable aroma. At first I thought that the reason was the low temperature at serving, but after resting in the glass nothing changed.

…. Crispy fried Mekitsas (kneaded dough deeply fried) in combination with a shrimp tempura in the third course. The shrimps were more like battered, not exactly the Asian tempura I’m used to, but they were still delicious. Fats from the Mekitsas and the batter were not felt, but still when combined they bring a little heavy feeling, especially with the addition of garlic Ghi (purified butter). Finely chopped tomatoes and cucumbers slightly balanced it, but, I think, only one mekitsa and one shrimp would do enough. After one such thing, if I had eaten it all, there wouldn’t be able to eat any more- delicious, but very satiable. I left part of the dish uneaten since I wanted to try the rest of the courses.

…. An exceptional buttery-soft texture of the Ahchak, in the fourth course, which very well teamed with the tartare of roasted peppers. Ahchak is made from the latest and most fatty sheep milk, by boiling, without adding yeast and cheese. They say it’s the same as a katuk, but the krokmatch is different because to the latter is added cheese. You can taste This one was very qualitative, there was no compulsive smell of sheep milk. We had a small but ample ball, a great starter!

Hear ….

…. Unfortunately the restaurant plays radio. I did not expect from a place with such good quality cuisine, not to synchronize the stimuli for all senses. The cozy interior, the delicious food with Bulgarian references partnering wonderfully with Bulgarian wine, but music from the radio…. Imagine, you listen to nice jazz, and after a bit, a cheerful voice advertises, even though the radio itself. I will give and example with my two favourite restaurants Cosmos and Karmare– music is themed and complements the concept of the interior, the rights are paid, the synergy is achieved. Because jazz was heard most of the time, only half a heart was dropped;

…. A little noisy, we didn’t hear the presentation of the wine well. This problem came from the fact that we were a mix of wine tasting visitors and a la carte customers. It was definitely a challenge for the team and for us, the clients. We lost half a heart here. The next time a microphone can help, as we have seen in other similar events.

Smell …

…. A wonderful, complex aroma of rosé “Scarmusche” by Ivo Varbanov, Marselan and Syrah, 2013. I felt sweet berries, and subsequently, on a later tasting, after resting in the glass, roasted plums. In this wine the variety Marselan prevails. It is a derivative of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache. It is resistant to mildew, its fruits are small, but obviously its presence is quite powerful. It affects the color, the aroma, softens the tannins. The wine has low, medium acidity. A great partner for food, including meat. Unfortunately, only 1900 bottles were made and we can no longer buy from it;

Ivo Varbanov, in fact, is neither an enologist, nor a sommelier. There is a lot in common between him and Hattori San, the owner of restaurant Shiki, in Vienna, with the Michelin star, for whom I was telling in my article WHY DID I CHOOSE SHIKI FROM ALL MICHELIN RESTAURANTS IN VIENNA?. They’re both musicians. Ivo is a pianist. He lives in the UK. Hattori San is a Japanese who lives in Vienna and is a violinist. Probably both of them perceive the creations of their businesses as a musical performance, which should be refined with hard work before showing on stage. Well, they both rack it up!

…. “Essence” by Malkata Zvezda (Little Star) winery, Marselan and Merlot 2015. I smelled cherries, morello, blueberries, aronia, and later opened grassy notes. Matures 18 months in oak and another year in a bottle and yet, tannins are felt up in the palate, not under the tongue. Nice combination with the Ahchak;

…. “Special Kolarovo Selection” from Chateau Kolarovo, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mavrud, Cabernet Franc 2012. Forest red berries, oak tannins. The main variety is Merlot. All of them were aged 12 months in French oak and Mavrud, as a Bulgarian variety-in Bulgarian oak. It went well with the pork in the main course;

…. Very nice finish with the Pivate Riserve, Cabernet Franc 2013 of Bratanov Winery. Interesting and rich sounding for wine of mono variety. The enologist Maria Stoeva told us that it matures 24 months in different oak barrels-Bulgarian, Hungarian and French and hence this multi-layered aroma. Then it matures more than 3 years in a bottle. It was served with dessert, in which we tried another variation of the smell and aggregate state of Cabernet Franc, but I will write about it in the category Taste.

Taste ….

…. Tavalak (Bulgarian dish, prepared in large pan)slowly cooked pork belly in sour cabbage juice, on something like a rice sauce with sauerkraut, topped with parsley cream and crushed hazelnuts. Fatty, but delicious. The meat was very fragile and with a nice crispy crust. Could be an idea more salty, because of the fat, but the rice was well salted and it seasoned the meat. Congrats on the idea of sauerkraut! Nice Bulgarian touch! 🌞🌞🌞

…. We started with a fascinating appetizer and we finish with an exclusive dessert. Babini bozki (honest translation: Grandma’s titties). In order not to rush into conclusions of the name, I hasten to say that it is a kind of a great profiterole, full of natural chocolate cremeux , a little grape marmalade inside and on the side, and an extraordinary sorbet of Cabernet Franc. A powder of cocoa cookies was spread around it with, I do not know if I understood well, spirulina;

Maria told us that in the South Sakar region they make even pickles from grapes. It would have been very interesting if one of the appetizers had added such an element. But the presence of grapes in the dessert in this impressive way, is also a very original idea.

Personally, my favorites from the evening were the starter egg in a nest with potato espuma in pickled yolk, the Charcoal crispy tapioca and the dessert Babini Bozki. 🌞🌞🌞

The coolest presentation on the plate was on the first appetizer with the straw and perfectly cut off the egg shell lid, while fully preserving its integrity to keep the contents. Small, simple, but with a lot of fancy and perfect performance!

Surely the new chef of Bistrello, Vladimir Todorov, attracted my attention. I will try to visit this place more often. I would gladly taste more things from the menu.

If you’re not from Sofia, but you’re planning a trip and looking for a hotel, you can book here. For your convenience, I added a booking.com search box, which refers directly to their site. I guarantee you will use all genius discounts and privileges. Just enter the dates, then press the Search button and voila.


Opening hours: Mon-Sat, 12-23 H.

Don’t worry about how you get to Bistrello, in Sofia. Just use the Google map here by clicking on the red pin with which I noted its location and then selecting directions:

ул. „княз Борис I“ 66, 1463 Old City Center, София, България

А: ul. Knyaz Boris I No66, Sofia

T: + 35989 540 5555

E: bistrello.bg@gmail.com

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