Sage Bistro: Evening of Seafood and Wine

The last time I ate dinner at Sage Bistro, it was my 31st birthday. I remember enjoying the food and drinks. If you ask why I haven’t been there in a few years, well it’s located in Bistritsa, a suburb about 16km outside the center of Sofia and the roads in that direction are narrow and winding in the warm weather and a complete nightmare in the winter, so I have heard from my friends that live there. Angel and I made the trek from Kyustendil to Bistrisa for this dinner because it was a special seafood and wine dinner with Morski Dar Mussel Farm and Chateau Massimier la Mignarde. To date, this was my best seafood experience in Bulgaria, yet I haven’t dine extensively on the Black Sea. The special menu included 4 courses and 3 glasses of wine for 44 lv, which I considered quite good price for the quantity and quality of food being served.

Sage is run by two brothers who have had to opportunity to work in Canada, as well as in Bulgaria at the Kempinski as head chef in the Panorama restaurant. Their philosophy emphasizes good food, fresh products and excellent service.
We started with an octopus salad, which had nice flavor and the octopus was tender and suculent. The salad included with celery, which I am not normally a fan of, but in this dish added a bit of crispness and went well with the other flavors and lemony vinaigrette. 

They also put two large bowls of mussels for everyone at the table to share. They were cooked in a citrusy wine sauce. The mussels were fresh, well textured and free from grit. I was too busy enjoying my friends and food to get a snap.

The salad and mussels were served with Equilibre a sauvignon-viognier blend, which was the favorite wine of the night. We ordered a second bottle!

The stuffed calamari, when it first arrived had this aroma of an Asian sweet and sour sauce, but when I tasted it, it was not at all what I expected, not that it is a bad thing, but my nose was off. The calamari was stuffed with vegetables, like eggplant, rather ratatouille-esque with a pronounce garlic flavor. I ended up getting a big chunk of garlic and it unfortunately stuck around through out the entire meal and ride home to Kyustendil. The calamari was served with the Muscat Petit Grains. The dish was quite tasty.

Our main course was a play on surf and turf. The beef medallions were served with shrimp and a truffle butter sauce.  The truffle sauce was mildly aromatic, but not very intense. It was a nice compliment to the dish, but at 44lv per person, you can hardly expect fresh truffles, especially since the Perigord truffle is out of season. The beef was tender and cooked well, for me that means it was medium rare and seasoned. The shrimp were amazing. They were flavorful and fleshy, not at all like the rubbery sponges you usually find in restaurants… It is unfortunate there were only two… I could have had a dozen! It was served with the Meridienne Rose, which the table described more red than white in it’s flavor for a rosé.

Finally, dessert was a cheesecake brownie. It was really good and I am not a big fan of desserts, but I don’t think the description was really appropriate because in my mind, I have the American idea of cheesecake and brownies as these are sort of an American thing! To me it was more like a torte, but regardless of the moniker, it was a lovely conclusion to the meal.  If you look closely, you can see that they transferred the Sage logo to the plate in powdered sugar.

If it wasn’t for the inconvenient location, I would be inclined to visit Sage more often, but for me it will remain a place that I visit infrequently or the next time they do a special promotion. The food is some of the best that I have eaten in Bulgaria. Maybe they will considered opening a sister location in the center of Sofia. 
One other item to consider when dining at Sage is the clientele. During our dinner, there were two VIP tables that I noticed, one was occupied by Slavi Trifonov of the Slavi Show (akin to David Letterman or Jay Leno in the US) and his entourage and at another table was a Hollywood producer in town working on a US film, who I had the unfortunate experience to work for a few years back. 
My party of 6 was a mix bunch of Kiwis, Americans and a Bulgarian, we were enjoying our meal and having a laugh, but the Hollywood producer, who recognized me, felt the need to tell us to keep down on numerous occasions to which we replied, no (he is an incredible ass), because the restaurant was so noisy from all the other patrons that we could barely hear each other when seated across from one another. I believe it was personally directed at me, since his shenanigans started after I arrived and he realized who I was, but then when we were leaving Slavi made some comment in Bulgarian, which my husband picked up on about us, not sure if it was because we were foreign or “noisy”, as we were leaving the restaurant. I have heard from people over the years that they love Sage, but hesitate going often because of the self-entitled assholes that feel they deserve to be treated special for who they are… TV star, Hollywood producer, mutri (slang for Bulgarian gangsters) etc… I am not easily intimidated, so this doesn’t bother me in the least, it is not only fine eateries like Sage that suffer from these people in Bulgaria, but be aware.

I look forward to returning to Sage to try something from their a la carte menu. It was a wonderful dinner and I urge people to make the trek to Bistrista for an unusually good meal!

(Bistritsa central square) 
Stefan Stambolov Str. № 63
Bistritsa 1444  Tel. 02.992.7140 
Work Hours: Tuesday to Friday – 17:00 – 24:00 
Saturday & Sunday – 11:00 – 24:00
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Author: caseyangelova

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

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