Philippolis, Plovdiv

On Monday, I found out about Agra 2012, the annual agricultural expo in Plovdiv.  The fact that Angel and I are about to embark on a journey in sustainable farming, it would be very beneficial for us to find out about resources available in Bulgaria. For anyone doing internet research about companies in Bulgaria, you end up rather disappointed.
  
We were planning on spending a day in Plovdiv, so I thought we could visit a restaurant, which I could review.  It was incredibly difficult to find anything reliable about good places to eat in Plovdiv.  I even wrote on the EGL’s Facebook page asking for advice or recommendation, which lead to nowhere.  So, I turned to Бакхус (Bacchus), Bulgaria’s gourmet food and wine magazine that also hands out awards annually to chefs and restaurants in Bulgaria. There I found 14 restaurant options.  I scrolled through them and found a place with a lovely garden Restaurant-Garden Philippopolis, which I hoped would be open, since the weather was supposed to be pleasant and warm-ish.

The restaurant is located in the Old Town of Plovdiv, which is quite charming with it’s narrow cobble stone streets and National Revivalist architecture juxtaposed with Roman ruins.  The building is adjacent to the Art Gallery & Museum Philippopolis.

The entrance is rather mundane and cheesy, complete with a menu that includes pictures on the façade.  The unadorned yellow and red sign welcomes the visitors through the archway into a side courtyard, which leads you to a door with an Art Nouveau stain glass motif in the shape of a butterfly, which was rather pretty. An army of bored and waiters greet you at the door with menus and show you to your seat.  Their attire was rather upscale and trying to give the impression of the professional French garçon.

The interior was tasteful but extremely pretentious.  The white table cloth vibe, complete with the paper napkin holder and oil and vinegar dispenser on the table.  The menu was ambitious, but the fare was standard among restaurants in Bulgaria offering “international cuisine”; I already wanted to leave.  The prices were horrendous and the place was empty, so it was too late to walk out.  The horde of waiters mulling about would be difficult to dodge.
The wine list was heavily Bulgarian, with many names that I am familiar with and enjoy because they are readily available in any supermarket, so the extravagant mark-up of 100% or more, was a huge turn off.  Angel and I had a beer to start, which just set the tone for the rest of the meal.  It tasted off, which was not surprising since it had expired a week ago… Real classy!
Angel was inspired to get a salad, the one that I wanted with cabbage and raisins was not available… I guess because cabbage is not in season at the end of winter/beginning of spring.  He ordered the salad of the house with grilled eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, topped with tuna and a garlic dressing. When it arrived I though he was extremely daring for thinking something like that would be good in the winter.
I opted to try an olive, which was truly an unfortunate experience.  It tasted rancid and took a bit of time to get the sour/fermented chemical taste out of my mouth. I then tried a piece of the zucchini with a bit of the garlic dressing, which was blah as the olive taste still festered. What did we expect.
I ordered Pork Tenderloin with Porchini’s for my main.  It tasted OK, but the meat was overcooked, the vegetables were frozen and the mushrooms tasted like they came from a jar.  All in all, it satisfied my hunger, but was nothing worth remembering. The presentation was classic and the entire dish was something you would eat at your parent’s house or at home for a weekend dinner.  At almost 20 lv, you would be better off to make it at home.
Despite the restaurant and the meal being an overall disappointment, the garden had potential although it’s close proximity to the tunnel under Old Town, leaves me to believe you won’t be listening to the birds chirp as you enjoy your meal.
I am not through with Plovdiv.  I know there are culinary gems waiting to be be discovered.  I will visit the town again in search of another delectable meal… recommendation welcome!  Plus the day was a success.  We received some good information from the Agra Expo. I even found a blueberry plant and wisteria for my home.  The only downside to the expo was the presence of one of the most evil companies in the world MONSANTO.  Bulgarians should be raising hell and protesting their presence in Bulgaria.  

Their booth all colored with green to give the illusion of nature was a huge farce. Considering Bulgaria has banned GMO’s what the hell were they doing there?  If someone knows.. please tell me!  

Restaurant-Garden Philippopolis
29 Saborna str.
Plovdiv 4000 Bulgaria
Telephone: +359 32 624 851
http://www.philippopolis.com

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Author: caseyangelova

Eating, Gardening & Living in Bulgaria www.caseyangelova.com

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