A couple of weeks ago, a friend returned from Brighton Beach, raving about the khachapuri she’d gobbled up on Neptune Avenue. Having enjoyed a long love affair with the Georgian cheese bread, we resolved to make a trip, and holy hell, we’re glad we did.
The bakery, appropriately named Georgian Bread, turns out $6 rounds of khachapuri throughout the day, typically to order. You may wait 12 minutes or 20 or 45, but, however long it takes, it’s worth it. After the bread emerges from the oven, it’s packed into a pizza box where it sits, daring you to ignore it. The warmth and aroma emanating from the box makes this impossible — the 12-inch loaf pictured above completely disappeared within seven minutes of purchase. Because once you rip into the crust, which has the texture and yeasty, floury taste of good pizza dough, you reach the salty, molten cheese, which is like scrambled eggs crossed with farmer’s cheese crossed with heroin.
This is bread with power. It has the power to make one grin suddenly and idiotically, to forget what month it is, to forget how cold it is. It has the power to make grown women start jumping up and down in the street, and to make the world seem benevolent. It is breakfast, lunch, and a fistful of antidepressants rolled into one.
And while it’s certainly not spa cuisine, the bread oddly isn’t all that heavy. Maybe it’s because of the airy consistency of the cheese, or because the crust surrounding it is relatively thin. So while it is, theoretically, one of the great gutbombs of global cuisine, in practice it’s a gentle gutbomb — it’ll settle unobtrusively into your stomach, keeping you happy and warm and satiated until you’re hungry again, 36 hours later.
265 Neptune Avenue