New restaurant serving up authentic taste of Bulgaria; Birmingham's first Bulgarian restaurant has opened offering a super authentic menu. Sanjeeta Bains talks to co-owner Georgi Mitkov about his 'dream' project.
IRMINGHAM'S only Bulgarian restaurant is adding to the city's exciting and eclectic restaurant scene.
BThe Bulgarian Village Kitchen is co-owned by former bar manager Georgi Mitkov and is housed in the former Note Bar on Suffolk Street Queensway, next to the New Alexandra Theatre.
It may look pretty nondescript from the outside but the interior will transport you to a traditional Bulgarian restaurant with a superauthentic menu.
Mr Mitkov is originally from Plovdiv, the second biggest city in Bulgaria after Sofia.
He previously worked as bar manager at award-winning Pushkar Indian restaurant on Broad Street and at the acclaimed Buddha Bar in Dubai.
Starters include the chicken livers speciality as well as chicken hearts smothered in butter. Chargrill dishes include Tartarsk Kufte (minced beef with herbs and cheese inside), marinated pork neck and chicken fillet.
Claypot casserole dishes form a staple of Bulgarian cuisine such as traditional chicken stach - chicken, mushrooms, onions and vegetables.
Game of Thrones fans might want to try the Thracian dish - feta cheese, sausage, tomato, egg butter, pepper and onion.
Mr Mitkov explained: "Thraki was the name given to ethnic Bulgarans who lived in Thrace - an area which is now split into Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. This is where I believe Game of Thrones got the idea to create the Dothraki race in the books and TV show.
"It's a part of our culture that we are very proud of, so this is why we have Thracian dishes on the menu. There are also photos from Thrace in the restaurant. This is where the real Dothraki people are from and we serve what they used to eat."
Mr Mitkov added: "It's been a huge dream of mine to open a Bulgarian restaurant in Birmingham. I've been looking for the right venue for over two years.
"The owner of the Note Bar is a friend of mine and he approached me about taking over the lease. I jumped at the chance as it's a nice central location.
"I wanted a place where Bulgarians can come and be reminded of home, somewhere that feels like a home from home and celebrates our culture.
''But this is also somewhere where Brummies who've never visited Bulgaria get a good introduction to our way of life, our food and history."
Indeed the restaurant also doubles up as a museum with plenty of antique Bulgarian artefacts.
There are 100-year-old textiles, traditional Bulgarian clothes, 1920s carriage wheels as lamp shades and photographs of Bulgaria's rich history adorning the walls.
And the focal point of the restaurant is a huge painting of James Bourchier, Times Balkan correspondent in the early 20th century, in traditional Balkan dress dancing with Bulgarians in a cafe in Sofia.
Mr Mitkov said: "James Bourchier was a strong supporter of our country after the second Balkan war so the painting is in tribute to him."
A big part of Bulgarian culture is Rakia - arguably the most popular drink in Bulgaria. It's a fruit brandy and the alcohol content of Rakia is normally 40 per cent ABV.
Common flavours are produced from plums, grapes and apricots and are available at the Bulgarian Village Kitchen.
The restaurant is open Tuesday to Sunday from noon to 11pm.