In Armenia it is still hot enough to sit outside and eat lunch in the sunshine. September the something-th and you have to look at the tables and choose a seat in the shade. For a Britisher it is a delight. Locals say it is autumn but I found it as summery as any weather I have experienced this year. That’s the lucky thing about coming from a country with a bad weather rep, it makes you more appreciative of even a soupçon of sun.
Today for lunch I went to Sergey’s Place near the ancient Graeco-Roman temple at Garni. The name makes perfect sense when you learn that it is both a place and owned by a man called Sergey. It specialises in Armenian barbecue food, with which it has been pleasing an international clientele for four years.
Sergey is so sure of the weather that he has no indoors. This is an outside restaurant that looks as though it was started in someone’s back garden. Along the entrance pathway, there is a lavash oven, with two women rolling out the flat bread dough and cooking it on the walls of a deep oven. Rather like watching a Neapolitan pizzaiolo, it is exciting to watch the speed with which they can create the huge pieces of bread.
We started with some salads and tabbouleh along with a freshly cooked lavash. The procedure is to wrap different cheeses and herbs in the lavash and eat along with the salads. For me the winner was the aubergine salad. This was made from peppers soaked in oil and barbecued aubergine and had a delicious smokiness. Rather like an edible Islay Scotch, without the whisky kick.
Next we had barbecued pork, cooked in a spicy marinade and cooked long enough that the meat was tender. Then a whole gata arrived. By now I was full, so I knew I couldn’t have very much. However, one should always try the specialities of the house, so I took a bite.
It was good. I somehow found room for a whole slice.
If you visit the temple at Garni then try Sergey’s Place for a quick meal afterwards. Take the first right from the temple and its on the left. You can easily miss it, but if you enjoy a meal amongst the trees it’s worth seeking out.