Opening its doors today in Mayfair is Marani a family run restaurant hoping to introduce Londoners to the joys of Georgian cooking. And just in case you were thinking, 'What MORE shrimp and grits?" we mean Georgia over by the Black Sea, not the American deep South.
Taking over the space that was Tempo on Curzon Street, Marani's 'thing' is supra which (using Wikipedia) we discovered is apparently a traditional Georgian feast. Chef Tekuna Gachechiladze will take traditional dishes as his inspiration but give them a lighter touch. So there'll be Khinkali dumplings (knobs of dough with spiced meat), Khachapuri cheese bread and spiced broths as well as slow-cooked stews, skewered meats from the mangal grill and a wide variety of vegetarian dishes.
Dishes they're particularly proud of include Xinkali soup (spicy broth with dumplings), Elarji balls (polenta with cheese served with a spicy almond baje dipping sauce) and Lamb Chakapuli (slow cooked lamb with plums and tarragon).
Marani itself means wine cellar and the restaurant promises it'll have the largest selection of Georgian wines this side of the Caucasus Mountains. We're intrigued by the Georgian qveri method of making wine which sees wines fermented and aged in a ceramic clay jar that is buried in the ground.
The two floored restaurant will feature a more traditional Georgian-decor all day dining room downstairs and a more formal restaurant upstairs as well as a private dining room seating 12 upstairs for more traditional feasts.