Ул. Ибраимова 24/24 Ibraimova St.
Appetizers from 100 som ($2), Entrees from 300 som ($6)
I’ve learned the Russian word for sweet tooth (сладкоежка), and it seems appropriate here in Kyrgyzstan. Streets are lined with food stalls selling ice cream out in front, local honey varietals abound, and there are numerous supermarket aisles dedicated to cookies, cakes, and candies. Having a bit of a sweet tooth myself, I can certainly appreciate the many local ways to satisfy it. When it comes to sweet spirits, however, I find the flavors more perplexing than appealing. Wines ranges from sweet (сладкое) to half-sweet (полусладкое) to half-dry (полусухое) to dry (сухое); all but the driest fall decidedly on the syrupy-sweet end of the spectrum. And while imported beers taste as you would expect, the locally brewed beers at Blonder Pub in Bishkek fall prey to this same sugar craze.
I went to Blonder with a large group to celebrate a fellow student’s upcoming departure, and it was a great venue for such an occasion. Styled like a German pub with a beautiful “biergarten,” we were seated in a spacious and plush outdoor booth. Blonder is the only local brewery that I’ve heard of (so far), and they offer nine different types of beer on tap. Luckily for our group of seven, their menu also features the “Meter of Beer:” seven beers of your choosing, discounted 15% and with complimentary bread sticks. Over the course of the evening, we tried the Irish Red, Blonder Beer, English Stout, Krušovice Light, and the pomegranate beer. Surprisingly, all had a strong, sweet aftertaste. We even confused the English Stout for the pomegranate flavor at first, because it was so sweet! General consensus was that the beers were good…but different. Personally, I’d go back and order the Krušovice Light, but I’m just as happy with the ubiquitous Baltika 7.
The food at Blonder was actually much better than the beer. Their menu is extensive, with lots of appetizers and plates made for sharing. They offer pages of different kinds of meats, though I was disappointed to learn the rabbit dishes were not available. Highlights of our meal included the shared fried cheese balls and the Russian snacks, and everyone around the table was very satisfied with their entrée. Prices were on the higher side for Bishkek, about 300 som ($6) and up per entrée, with some of the exotic dishes – like lobster – running well over 1000 som. However, it is quite easy and delicious to choose from the more economical and traditional preparations including lamb, chicken, sausages, and shashlik. When all was said and done and we had divided up the check, we each paid 800 som (about $16), more than I usually spend on a Thursday night dinner, but perfectly appropriate for a festive group celebration.
For groups and faculty-led tours, I’d recommend Blonder Pub for a celebratory night out. The large menu has something for everyone, and the restaurant has ample space for large groups both inside and out.