I’d done some research prior to arrival in Almaty, but that hadn’t revealed a really defining restaurant that I couldn’t leave town without visiting, so I decided to largely play it by ear in the city.
On the first night I took a recommendation from the folks at the Rixos and ended up at nearby Afisha.
With a cocktail bar on entry, stylish interior seating and a spacious terrace this looked pretty promising.
Kazakhstan is, of course, landlocked so I wasn’t particularly exepcting too many seafood places whilst here but there’s a clear desire for places to showcase seafood as a luxury item.
When the menu arrived I was happy to go with more meaty options, but my eye was caught by their selection of soups so couldn’t resist ordering the chicken veloute with tender chicken dumplings.
I followed with the steak tartare and then the lamb’s tongues with airy potato.
Their wine list seemed quite extensive but the by-the-glass selection was rather more limited, so I had a couple of fine but unspectacular reds with my meat courses.
The soup was first and proved deeply satisfying. Elegant quenelles of minced chicken were suspended in a veletty broth that packed good flavour. It was a very pleasing opener.
The tartare came with really good in-house bread that was served lightly toasted in a rustic hunk. The meat was of very good quality with excellently bright seasoning from the usual tartare suspects, augmented by a topping of pickled mushrooms. It was splendid.
The main course reflected further expert work from the kitchen. The lamb tongues, which can often be tough as hell, cut like butter and were profoundly meaty in their flavour. The airy mash was great and the crisp leek topping extremely elegant. It was a top-class dish.
I rounded things out with a couple of bevvies at their cocktail bar including a belting espresso.
So overall, Afisha was an extremely enjoyable first restaurant stop in Almaty. It reflected well thought-out, accurately executed dishes that had a good bit of panache about them. It was definitely targeted at European tastes but I was impressed by the considerable attention to detail that radiated from the kitchen. It would make a good first stop for anyone spending time in Almaty.
Blythe scores Afisha
4.5/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
4/5 for setting
4/5 for service
giving an overall 16.5/20
I ate: chicken veloute with dumplings, beef tartare, lamb’s tongues with airy potato
I drank: red wine, water, espresso
I wore: a JACKET
Total bill: 16,280 tenge
Address: Kabanbay batyra 83, Almaty 050000, Kazakhstan