Batonebi- Look, but Don’t Eat

This quaint little cafe-restaurant located in Vake looks shiny and delicious on the menu, but on closer inspection is nothing more than a pretty face. H&H take an inside look:

Huxley:

Just looking at this brings back bad memories. Burrito and Mojito. Photo by Huxley

It has a classy ambience created by the warm tones on the walls, tiled floors and granite table tops. The menu is rather diverse with entres ranging between pizzas, sandwiches, American appetizers (like chicken wings and mozzarella sticks), American-style cocktails, vegetarian options, wraps and salads. All the prices were fair. On the dessert menu, our eyes were caught by the cheesecake, apple pie, and brownie with ice cream. Initially, it was difficult to find anything to criticize, but after ordering a mojito and chicken burrito, recommended by the server, our experience began its decline.

Our pace of meal was off– food came late; and dishes were served out of order. It made sense that our experience in Little America would return to back to the harsh reality that we were in an American-style restaurant with a Georgian name. The service was very typical of most other Georgian restaurants. Our food was served slightly warm, either vastly overcooked or undercooked. My burrito, for example, was on the overcooked side of things. It was garnished with Mexican rice and refried beans. The refried beans were essentially lobiani filling, a bean paste put in a Georgian dish, and the rice must have been made the day before and reheated many times for how dry it was. My burrito was more of an enchilada, and the tortilla was so overcooked it was like it had been in a microwave for 2 minutes too long. That was when I became aware that the knives we were using had been long dulled, and I was rocking the plate to cut anything off. The sauce inside the burrito was reminiscent of some sort of dry, flavorless marinara. I have never been to a restaurant and felt exhausted afterwards.

Our server was not aware of her only table, as the restaurant was dead when we came in, nor was she visible.

However, our wine and cocktails were enjoyable. The mojito was the best mojito I’ve had in Georgia. They could have been a little more generous with the rum, but given the price (7-8 lari), who could complain there?  It’s a shame this restaurant closes at 11:00 pm, as it is a great place to go for drinks and has the perfect after-hours lounge environment, if they were to market appropriately.

"Brownie Soup"

A freshly served and split brownie never looked more soupy. Talk about presentation! Photo by Harriet

For dessert, we ordered the brownie with ice cream. It was a shame the ice cream was almost completely melted by the time it got to our table. Either the server was just really lazy, or the refrigeration temperature for the ice cream is not low enough.

Harriet:

Don’t worry about planning in advance to dine at Batonebi. If you arrive before 8 on a Friday night you and your party will be the only patrons. It is a very western influenced restaurant with comfortable
accommodations for both large and small groups. The menu is very diverse with a wide range of food available from traditional American cuisine all the way to Mexican and Italian. You will have plenty of
time to choose what to order with their slow service and lack of interest in their customers. Both food and drinks are of reasonable prices. A glass of white Tsinindali wine, the cheapest on the list, is only 4.50 GEL. The American classic burger came out looking delicious but quickly disappointed. Bland, undercooked, and cold it goes without saying it’s not worth the 10.80 GEL.

"Onion Soup"

An edgy, bland "French Onion Soup" takes a culinary risk by losing the gruyere topping. Photo by Harriet

The onion soup very reasonably priced at under 5GEL was also dissatisfying. After the long wait and two glasses anything can taste satisfactory, therefore overall an adequate experience. The restaurant itself is clean and welcoming and also located in a very nice part of town not far from bus stops along a major street.

Suggestions and Recommendations:

We realize that Georgia is still emerging in the International cuisine and customer sectors of dining and food, and we have some recommendations that would immensely improve the experience.

  1. Ensure the food is appropriately flavored before being served. None of Hux’s meal had any salt on it. Maybe an 80-year-old would appreciate this for heart health, but take a risk. If you aren’t confident in adding spice to your dishes, you probably shouldn’t be serving them.
  2. Food should be fresh. Of course there are ways to cut corners with frozen and premade foods, but rice and tortillas should not be included.
  3. Look up a recipe for refried beans online. Lobiani filling and refried beans, while very similar, are NOT the same. Seriously, even the worst recipe would be better than what I ate.
  4. Train your servers on western standards. There are many resources available.  Basics like the server introducing their self, asking “how was/is your meal?”, “do you need anything else?”, etc. are questions that make a huge difference.
  5. Presentation of drinks. The mojito I had, as mentioned, was decent. In the flavor department. Presentation is totally different. Mojitos are more attractive when they aren’t served in a rocks glass.
  6. Pace of meal should be paid some attention. Harriet had her burger served raw 20 minutes after we had already received the rest of our meal.
  7. Meals should be served hot. Desserts with ice cream should be served immediately to avoid ice cream soup on a plate.
  8. Server knowledge. Our server didn’t know the menu and didn’t know the flavors of the menu items. We don’t care if she’s new. Don’t let her out on the floor alone if she can’t speak about the menu.
  9. Consistency. Maybe other people have had a wonderful time here, but the experience should be uniform.

Until this restaurant addresses these concerns, our burn notice will remain in effect. If Georgia wants to sell to the International market, it should raise its standards to meet expectations.

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