With its entrance down a dingy staircase off Allen Street, Mimino hasn’t the most delightful location. Still, there’s a relaxed vibe once you’re ensconced in the dimly lit basement, helped by friendly staff, regulars chatting in Georgian (while contemplating dumplings the size of small teepees), and a room in a farrago of styles.
An impressive rough-hewn round wooden table with ten high-backed chairs stands at the centre, its impact heightened on our visit by the theme from The Godfather playing. Musicians and dancers sometimes perform, and a partially mirrored ceiling, plastic foliage and brick, cream or pine-clad walls add to the mix. Food is characterised more by volume than delicacy. A mixed meze cold starter featured various vegetarian dips, including pkhali (spinach and leeks mashed with walnut and spices) and lobio (red beans with walnuts) with freshly made khachapuri cheese bread; flavours were rather similar and lacking in zest. Main courses consist of stews, dumplings or kebabs.
Chanakhi resembled a hearty bowlful of irish stew, with tender lamb and chunks of potato bulked out by onion and an immense tomato. The Georgian wine list is well worth exploring. So, a convivial venue with honest food rather than exhilarating cooking.