Baku Restaurants – What do I recommend?
Tosca by the seafront boulevard has been sublime both times I have been there, from thin crust pizzas fresh from an oven to risotto and unforgettable salad combinations, eased and delighted with dancing red wines. But it certainly helps take the load off your wallet, 50 manat came and went the last time (we were going Dutch).
Cafe Araz in Fountain Square is reportedly the hangout of students and revolutionaries, but tonight there were even ladies among the throngs of sometimes hand-holding men (its friendship) and a few rucksacked foreigners. The street atmosphere, delicious sizzling sadj, friendly waiters who glowed with triumph when they understood my English and a bill of only about 11 manat – sweet surrender what a night.
On previous trips I have enjoyed Georgian hospitality at Imereti, spicy Georgian food is nearly as beautiful at that Georgian woman’s eyes I will never forget (another story) and the wine came in jugs, my favourite. The price was reasonable, the welcome excellent and luckily the Sunday night balladeer got lazy after a few nostalgic songs.
Paul’s Steakhouse is good for great steaks and large cold beers when your fellow consultants don’t want exotic. Be sure to phone to book ahead and keep German timing – one horde of diners per table at 6pm and the next due to hit the spot at 8. It is the excellent steaks – they don’t serve them well done, that would not do justice to the great meat. The soundtrack of the Who and Rolling Stones is not all bad and summons memories from the night.
Adam’s Curries did a good vegetarian thali for 11 manat, the night I went was a bit quiet but I suppose that is an aberration and the staff were relaxed and welcoming and fluent in English. I guess they have to deal with the local Baku Hash House Harriers from time to time, so every patient smile helps.
With our Azeri project leader, local meals have turned into banquets, at Plov House and Firuze we have been treated like kings, sat around high piled tables of local delicacies and feasted until we felt like bursting and staggered into the night, our bellies sagged with beer or wine.
Anadolu has offered tasty and cheerful Turkish food in a busy and family atmosphere both times I have been there, two good dinners. They even spray you down with cologne when you leave – the sweetest smelling diners. When you want cheap, fast and cheerful check Kebap Express near Austin Hotel, great kebabs cooked right under your eyes.
The ubiquitous bizness lanc (say it, with the “c” sounding “ch”) at 5 or 6 manat is a feast that turns the long quiet afternoons into struggles with stupor, as laptop screens swim before tired eyes. The 3-4 courses of Pitstop soon waned into sameness. The underground velvet and gilt halls of Restoran Art always delighted, the waiters doggedly avoiding us because they feared our English, but delicious, wellcooked and cheap mountains of soup and food arriving once we started pointing or when another table helped us out with translation. Elsewhere I have eaten Ukrainian, Azeri, pizza and others but my bargain favourite for lunch remains the rows of pies and coriandered pizza at Cudo Peska.