Little Georgia, Broadway Market, London E8

I don’t think I’m offending anyone but the Georgians when I say their country is a backwater. Googling Famous Georgians returns ten pages of US history before a single mention of its European cousin.

And once found, the data on its alumni isn’t encouraging. Undoubtedly the most famous Georgian of all is Joseph Stalin. Aside from the moustachioed tyrant, Jason stopped by to pick up a golden fleece and that’s about it, give or take a couple of gaunt looking footballers. And as for food, well, as I say, those footballers were hardly Ruddock sized.

All this makes Little Georgia a surprise. Broadway Market in Hackney is talked of in estate agents as an up and coming area. Up and coming for Hackney, that is. Among old school pubs and new school cuisine is Little Georgia, itself a Victorian pub in a previous life. The heavy curtains and sticky carpets have gone, replaced by blood red walls and sturdy oak tables.

The food is, well, I had no preconceptions, less a nagging fear over vegetarian options. I’m sure in Stalin’s time vegetarianism was up there with overthrowing the state, but not in 21st century Hackney. The cooking extends beyond Georgia’s contested borders. Turkish and middle-eastern influences add spice to the hot dishes and Russian salads form the basis of several starters. Carnivores are catered for with Gupta (Georgian meatballs) alongside lamb and beef stews, all flavoured with Georgian spices.

Herbivores aren’t just there to make up the numbers either. The Pkhali pate mixes beetroot and walnuts and looked delicious (and popular on surrounding tables). Aubergines were a staple of many options and ajabsandali (aubergines, onion and peppers in tomato sauce) went down like Kinkladze in the penalty box. Hachapuri ‘ Georgian cheese bread to you and me, soaked up the remainders.

The wine list includes a couple of Georgian reds (Georgia as a wine growing region was news to me). The service is fine, despite a Sunday lunchtime crush and the restaurant welcomes children by the pramful. The kids on the next table were developing their communication skills in a screeching contest. The parents studied the situation and promptly shoved dumplings in their mouths.

Georgian food in Hackney. Hackney up and coming. Crazy, but true.