The Olive Garden – Sofia, Bulgaria

It has been about two years since I have last been to The Olive Garden. Aside from my in the US last year, I am not sure why I haven’t been back sooner. I bumped into one of the owners Tom at the St. Patrick’s Day Ball at the Hilton and he was raving about their new chef. He told me that is Italian and was previously employed at the personal chef to the Italian ambassador in Sofia. Just the chef’s resume alone piqued my interest… then Tom mentioned a tender juicy steak and I was sold.

The restaurant is located in the center on Angel Kunchev, which is convenient unless if you are driving. They have an outdoor garden, which if I am not mistaken, was much larger two years ago. When I was there half of the garden was taken by a car. I am not sure if it will be there all summer, but the garden as I remember it was lovely.

My friends and I were starved and absorbed in conversation, which is why I missed taking photos of our appetizers in their pre-ravaged state. I ordered the humus because the other owner, Alex is Syrian and hummus is a regional specialty.

My friends started with the soup of the day, a potato & zucchini soup, which I was not impressed with it was rather flat and lacked any discernible flavor. We later found out that the Executive Chef was not working the lunch shift, so it was really difficult to judge the food. My friends who live in the area are regulars. In the last month alone, they have ate there 4 time for dinner, which was the difference.

Iva ordered Chicken Milanese and a Spaghetti with Marinara sauce. The dish was good but rather plain, you can’t really go wrong. The sauce was nice and it was the Chef that prepares all the sauces in advance.

Zvezda ordered another favorite of mine ratatouille. Despite being out of season, the flavors were magnificent, the vegetables were all cooked well. I can only imagine how it will taste mid-summer!

I went for the Pepper Steak. It has been almost 9 months since I last had red meat. It is really hard and EXPENSIVE to find decent red meat in Bulgaria. The slaughtering, aging and butchering practices are completely different, so I just stick with pork, which is eaten in abundance, so the turn around is quick and you are more then likely getting a fresh product. I ordered my steak medium-rare, which is difficult for Bulgarian cooks to do right the first time because most Bulgarian, my husband included, eat their meat medium-well, to well. If the Chef was in the kitchen, I have no doubt he would have hit the mark on the first try.
When I got my steak back I was quite satisfied. It was tender, juicy and the pepper sauce was a nice accompaniment. For 28.95 lv, this is one of the best steak deals that I have found in Sofia.
What I like about The Olive Garden on my first visit in 2010 and my most recent visit is the same; good food at reasonable prices. The atmosphere is welcoming and unpretentious. A lovely place for a casual meal with family or friends.
The Olive Garden
18 “Angel Kunchev” Street (@ “Dr. G Varovich” Street) 
Tel: +359 2 481 1214
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Author: caseyangelova

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

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