If you're in the mood for a light dinner or a business lunch – one that is not too expensive and you only have, say, 60 to 90 minutes to spare – then you could do well to visit the Spaghetti Company.
Sofia has three Spaghetti Company restaurants. One is at the Serdika Center, one at the Boulevard Shopping Centre in Alexander Malinov and one at TZUM, the outlet we visited.
When we arrived at 1pm I was struck by how busy the restaurant was. True, it was a Friday, but it was packed and the waitresses were very busy. Obviously, it's a popular lunch venue.
I had just one dish, a main course – fettuccini with beef, tomato sauce, thick cream, garlic and fresh garden herbs – 8.95 leva. It was very tasty but, as so often in Bulgaria, the dish was only lukewarm. My wife had a mix of fresh green salads, with cherry tomatoes and Italian cheese and crispy fried bacon. A welcome European touch to the presentation was that the ingredients were nicely separated instead of mixed up.
Our two companions shared a rocket salad (without the meat) for 7.50 leva and a vegetarian pizza for about 8.50 leva. They were complimentary about the fresh ingredients – salads usually ARE very good in Bulgaria – and the pizza.
We waited some time for the dessert menu, only to be told that our first choice, the tiramisu, was no longer available. To be fair, by then it was after 2.30pm. My wife settled for an apple cake that she liked and I had a chocolate brownie. It was tasty but would have been better served hot. (Sometimes I think that could serve as Bulgaria's culinary epitaph!) Our two friends had the same desserts and liked them.
The total bill, which included four Stella Artois beers, two diet-cokes and an orange juice came to 62 leva for the four of us.
Menus were in English and service was warm and welcoming. Do not let the name deceive you; it's not just about spaghetti. There's a wide range of antipasta, salads, seafood and sweets. For example, salads include crostini and smoked salmon with artichokes, dried tomatoes, spring onions and pepper pesto. Or the Spaghetti Company salad made of chicken shreds, cherry tomatoes, olives, green beans and capers with lemon dressing.
Antipasti include the likes of octopus carpaccio with lemon pepper and bruschetta with prosciutto, mozzarella and courgettes on a hot slab with tomato salad. Besides the usual spaghetti and lasagne, the pasta menu includes fettuccini, penne, linguine, rigatoni and seafood. Among the standout main dishes are oven-roasted rabbit with polenta and steamed vegetables and duck fillet with marinated chestnuts and caramelised baby onions.
Spaghetti Company has a trendy feel about it; all the outlets are modern, streamlined and unpretentious, a good all-round eatery. Well worth a visit.
Address: TZUM, 2 Maria Luisa Blvd Tel: 02/9260427 Open: 9am to midnight Credit cards: Yes http://www.spaghetti-company.com/
Overall rating: 5/6 Service: 5/6 Atmosphere: 5/6 Food: 4/6 Price: $$ ($ up to 12 leva a person for three courses; $$ 12 to 20 leva pp; $$$ 20 to 35 pp; $$$$ 35 and over pp)
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