When you go to the Secret Table of Chef Petrov in Sofia you get more than food. Chef Petrov is a Historian, a Biochemist, a Forager, a Philosopher, a Magician and an Entertainer. And before I forget, he also is a tremendous Cook.
A tiny place on the second floor with some interesting furniture has a world class ambition. A 25-dish tasting menu, with an wine pairing at a price which coming from Western Europe feels unbelievably cheap but maybe is affordable to only well to do Bulgarians.
Chef Petrov describes the Bulgarian cuisines as the mother of all cuisines as it developed on the cross road between Europe and Asia. “Bulgaria is the last country of Europe, but the first of Asia (or vice versa, depending on where you come from)” is how he characterises the main influences.
His food is super interesting, very flavourful and well executed. He uses almost exclusively local ingredients which he gets from supplier with whom he has a longtime relationship which bring him what they have and find. The lady who got him the white truffle searches her car whenever she goes out to hunt for them because a not so nice person once attached a GPS tracker on the underside of her car.
Some of his dishes are pure genius and fun, while tasting great. His shrimp cocktails incorporates ground parts of shrimps so when you eat them you hear them. His beef tartar gets served in a box which looks like a game board. He ferments milk and produces burrata during the meal. All of this is fun, educational as one can see applied chemistry and extraordinarily creative. His cheeses are homemade, I loved the Blue the most, even though I usually don’t like and choose them from a board.
If Chef Petrov had access to a high class supply chain, this restaurant would be world class. One can only hope that as this country develops the locals will discover find dining and start to support the local industry. It more than deserves this.