Strange Fruit- Pomegranate, a Georgian Peach
I was hit in the face. A friendly ghost of fragrance flooded Pomegranate (2302 El Cajon Blvd) with its intangible, but undeniable presence. Carried by the nostrils like Wimpy detecting hamburger fumes, we landed at a rustic, wooden table with lamps more appropriate for a living room than a dinner table.
Pomegranate was old school, a Siberian Lodge of sorts that served hard to find, traditional Georgian fare (as in Russia, not Atlanta.) The names of past patrons floated in loopy swirls, covering the walls, a yearbook from those that graced these halls before us (my own autograph scribbled in the ladies’ room.)
Drinks: Water - flavored with cucumber (nice touch)
Wine - served in juice glasses, two varieties at $3 a glass*
1) Georgian wine - mouth-puckering sweet
2) Malbec - tasted like dirt
*Corking fee - $14
Vodka - measured out by the finger-ful. Hmm, was it a two or three finger night?
Salad: Carrot salad - pulsed with a neon aura that reminded me of some unstable substance like plutonium. Shredded carrots were mixed with mayo, garlic, maybe ginger (I’m guessing.) It was creamy, crunchy and packed a bite - tasty and unlike anything I’ve had before.
Beet salad - the same preparation with beets did not go over as well, for me anyway. The consistency was a little too wobbly, but my fellow foragers gobbled up the extra portion greedily.
Apps: These potato dumplings showed me how to love again. A steaming bowl of “starch covered starch” came topped with sour cream and my past nemesis…dill. I usually find this herb overbearing, but these fresh cut snippets brought an earthy freshness to the melting sour cream “broth.”**
Pork dumplings - on my second visit, I got a little too excited and ordered the meat dumplings by mistake (the entire menu is in Georgian…well, with English translations- my fault!) and though it was a successful detour, it didn’t match my prior love affair (and no dill!)
Entrée: Stuffed cabbage**- If you come here for one thing, this is it. It was the edible poster-child for HOMECOOKING. This wasn't your run-of-the-mill menu item and would be a painstaking task to attempt in your own kitchen. I could not stop eating it. It just kept unfolding like a present of ground pork and onion. Even when my belly was round with contentment, my fork kept sliding onto the plate for one more taste (undeniably one of the best dishes in town.)
Lamb stew - sautéed with carrots, potato and meat, this dark stew was pungent and hearty, but didn’t make it on my list of keepers.
Lamb skewer - meat was strung on a blade like dense, unpolished jewels and laid out in gleaming tender chunks (my hungry man's favorite.)
Special: Lamb meatballs - these were moist and softball-sized mixed with mint and garlic.
Who would ever guess that this blank storefront could put out food with such character? From the first bite of Pomegranate there was no question that this is a true Georgian peach.
**must order items