Shtastlivetsa, Sofia 01-2020

For the one slightly fancier meal in Sofia, the option was between Shtaslivetsa and Hadjidragana, both well rated online and both conveniently located close to our Airbnb near Vitosha boulevard. Our Airbnb host independently recommended Shtaslivetsa and even though the place was fully booked on Saturday night, the nice decoration enticed us to book for the Sunday night.

It was very busy inside, with what seemed to be both tourists and Bulgarians. After entering the passageway from the boulevard, it opens up into a large room with even an upstairs, therefore initially hiding just how big this place is. It is adorned with bright lights, art work, some local TV showing food and travel things. Even though the dining was more upmarket, the prices were far from expensive in relative € terms, although a bit more than other local places.

Our waiter (and overall service) was less friendly. I don't think it was a matter of just being a stern faced local, because we'd certainly had smiles elsewhere.

- Hominy (kachamak) with butter & white cheese 7.9 lev - simple with a baked feta-type on top;
- "Caprese" aubergine (roasted aubergine stuffed with mozzarella, smoked yellow cheese, served with tomato sauce, mascarpone & basil) 15.9 lev - nice and rich savoury tomato sauce and a few spotches of plain mascarpone;
- Homemade grilled sausage 15.9 lev - I think it was a very lean beef mince, quite dense and not moist enough. They probably could have used a fattier cut of meat for this;
- Baked duck kebab with porcini & field mushrooms 18.9 lev - I expected a grilled kebab style, but instead received this stew-like dish with tender meat and a decent mushroom sauce.

Overall the setting and food are good. The price difference is really for the setting though. I'd have to say the dishes weren't remarkably better than the other cheaper local Bulgarian fare restaurants we tried. And the service certainly wasn't included in the price.