People lead busier lives today than we have in the past. Life seems to move at a consistently hectic pace and I find that you can go weeks or months without seeing your dearest friends and family. You may find time to catch up for a weekly chat over the phone; during your commute or between errands… but, sometimes relationships suffer due to the realities of life. This is why I like to organize an EGL dinner via Facebook and make it an open invite to anyone that enjoys reading my blog and dining out in Sofia, when I am on the prowl to try new restaurants. This way I can make new friends without having to navigate peoples busy schedules, although I usually have a some friends turn out.
This month, I chose to try Made in Home on Angel Kunchev, which was part of the Бакхус magazine’s restaurant week. Scrolling down the list of participating establishments this year, I saw some ones that I’ve been too in the past, Butchers, Hamachi, Captain Cook and Season at the Hilton, which was my externship kitchen, needless to say, I was quite familiar with their food and their kitchen. My interested turned to Made in Home, it was a spot that I wasn’t familiar with, but when I checked out their Facebook page, I got a good vibe and loved the logo.
The only downside to Made in Home was the conflicting feedback I had gotten from three separate people about their experiences. The first was from an American and it was really positive about the service. She was vegan and wanted a soy beverage. They were so accommodating that they headed to the local shop to purchase soy milk just for her. That kind of attention to detail is practically non-existent in Bulgaria. The second was a Sofian couple that didn’t like the food. They didn’t have a good experience and urged me not to go there, but they didn’t seem the type to be into the concept of Made in Home. The third recommendation was also rather blasé. They were excited about the idea of the place, but their food wasn’t anything special, so another suggestion to go elsewhere. Regardless, I needed to check the place out, but my expectations were quite low going into the dinner.
Earlier in the day, I managed to take a stroll down Angel Kunchev to get some exterior shots of the restaurant. The only down side to doing a dinner is the lighting situation. I hate using my flash as it disturbs other dinners, so I did what I could in photoshop to give a gist of the food and the interior.
When we walked in the place at 6:30 the place was humming with activity. A few tables were occupied with people enjoying a light bite or drinks after work. As the evening went on the place started really buzzing and the vibe could be felt even on a Tuesday night. People were relaxed and enjoying themselves. The eclectic decor was really fitting… a bit shabby chic with a smidge of kitsch. In the end our party was 6 including myself, a nice mix of people. The menu 34 lv for 3 courses and included water (San Pellegrino or Aqua Panna, a glass of wine and a aperitif/digestif)
The starter was Bulgar Salad with Crispy Bacon and Spinach. It was quite tasty. The “crispy” bacon was actually crispy. The size of the portion was appropriate for a starter, but my only complaint was that the dressing to pull the salad together was rather bland. It needed something to bind and bring the dish together. I added a bit of salt. On a whole everyone at the table loved the dish, but someone did comment that they thought the bulgar was a tad al dente, I liked it.
The main dish was a Provencal Multigrain salad with Parmesan cheese and avocado with grilled shrimp and pork tenderloin skewer on a bed of salad. The meat was really cooked well, pink, juicy and flavorful. Everyone was really surprised by the cooking of the meat. The shrimp was nothing remarkable, but I don’t recall seeing any cheese or avocado that the dish was supposed to be served with. The greens were fresh and crisp, but the leaves were too a tad too big to manage with out cutting, as one of the guests commented. I personally was disappointed that the leaves were not dressed. They were dry. The juice from the meat added some moisture, but I believe salad greens should be dressed, no matter how lightly, but should be flavorful and contribute to the dish. If you find greens on a plate undressed, I see them as garnish. My criticisms aside, the dish was quite nice.
Finally, the dessert a homemade Spring Tart with Strawberries and Cream Cheese. I am usually not a fan of Bulgarian desserts, but this was a real treat. The strawberries were ripe and juicy. The cake was moist and flavorful. I was really impressed by such a simple dessert. Anything made well can be delicious, no matter how simple.
Despite the mixed reviews, I truly enjoyed myself. Good service and tasty, well-prepared food will prompt me to return to Made in Home. The only thing I can think of with the negative experiences are that they suffer from inconsistencies in the kitchen, which is not uncommon in Bulgaria.