For our first night in Yerevan, we chose the Lonely Planet suggested Anteb for dinner. As I had a nagging feeling about alcohol, we checked they sold beers before sitting down. The Armenian menu offered lots of mezze type dishes, salads, BBQs, kebabs etc. We opted for pickles (sliced gherkins and two large chilli peppers), a tabbouleh salad (chopped herbs, tomatoes with a lemon dressing), and pork BBQ (succulent pork pieces served with rice). It all went really well together, particularly with the bread suggested by the waiter, a huge balloon of warm pitta. There was no drinks menu, and although the waiter said they had wine, we decided the simplicity of the no-frills place required beer. The place was busy with locals and had a relatively quick turnover. With beer and sparkling water we paid around £20.
We’d spotted Buzand Café Restaurant, a short walk from the hotel, and chose to sit inside as although there was a pavement terrace, it was starting to get chilly, and blankets were coming out. Our pre-dinner G&Ts were impressively served: two glasses of gin, a bucket of ice, slices of lime and one chilled tonic. A starter of five pieces of tomato bruschetta served on a slate, was just right. We had a bottle of Armenian white wine along with two mains: kufta (sic) with egg plant (two burger like minced beef patties served with grilled aubergine), and also chicken breast in a light spicy tomato sauce served with rice and chopped peppers. Both were good, and as we were finishing our wine, we were given a huge beautifully arranged platter of halved apricots, strawberries, cherries and mini pears. We decided to stay for coffee and opted for accompanying apricot and coffee brandy (brandies have been distilled in Armenia for over 150 years and koynak or cognac is its national liquor). Our bill came to a reasonable £57. It was an interesting place in that it was both casual with people coming in for a coffee or having a smoothie with dinner, and formal, with red wine served beautifully in elegant glasses.
We enjoyed Buzand so much, we returned the following night, but this time chose a meat platter and Greek salad and were served complimentary baklava.
For casual, during the day drinks, we tried three places.
The first was a smart pavement bar on Republic Square, where we tried our first bottle of Yerevan dry white wine with a shared dolma. On payment we discovered that the Meeting Point Gastro Café and Terrace are part of the Marriot Hotel.
On a walk through a semi-circle of green space surrounding the eastern part of the city, we heard the sound of tinkling water and eventually came across a stunning fountain and a large bar, called Chalet, with an outdoor terrace and squashy sofas. We sat comfortably in the sun, enjoying a cold beer with the occasional spray of cooling water on our faces.
The Cascade is a giant stairway made of limestone with lots of art in and around it. There were several bars and restaurants in the area, but on a sunny Sunday afternoon, most were bulging at the seams with large family groups. Eventually we found The Coast, which was ideal: not too busy, quiet music, no children and good service. We sat out under an awning, and having asked for the wine list, were invited in to look at the selection, and we chose a bottle of Tus from the Tavush Region (in the north of Armenia), which along with a mezze platter with two types of bread, hummus, baba ghanoush, a mint dip, tzatziki, and spicy tomato was a treat.
As expected from the capital, there is a plethora of bars, cafes and restaurants of all cuisines and at all price levels, but these were some of the ones we enjoyed.