la storia Surprises with an Incredible Dining Experience
La storia, one of the trendiest restaurants on the block, with a perfect location in the center of Blagoevgrad, is open from 8:30 AM until midnight. Local upper class people are its main clientele, but the occasional AUBG student also visits it. The menu is mainly international with a touch of Italian cuisine and a wide variety of seafood. The ambiance takes you away from the normal Bulgarian experience to provide you with a new world filled will luxury and comfort.
To get into the restaurant, you have to go through the winter garden, converted to a summer one when the weather allows it, and cross paths with the smokers sitting outside. It is interesting to mention that smoking is often allowed in la storia. When the garden is occupied, the entire upper level becomes smoker friendly.
Once inside, you immediately notice the interior. In contrast with the mainstream Bulgarian style where dark colored wood is used to decorate restaurants and to submerge the client in traditional Bulgarian culture, la storia surprises with beautifully crafted light wood used for the floors and the identically colored, however with a different texture, wood for parts of the walls. Everything else has a modern shine to it. Reflective black surfaces contrast perfectly with the wooden pieces. The interior screams luxury and their prices match it.
Reservations for dinner are important if you don’t mind waiting at least 45 minutes. The whole atmosphere is very similar to an award winning restaurant in Sofia – Chef’s, owned by Viktor Angelov – part of the MasterChef Bulgaria judges.
Everything I ordered there was splendid. The dishes were perfectly arranged and the flavor felt divine. The fresh pasta with beef tenderloin and truffle was of ideal size and looked astonishing, while the beef was not too raw, nor well done, and went well with the rosé from Chili. The restaurant provides a large selection of Bulgarian and imported wine, which is not overpriced. The iceberg salad with chicken fillet had a yogurt-based dressing, and it was decorated with cherry tomatoes and parmesan cheese. When they served the chocolate cake, it was a round sphere that quickly turned flat once the waiter poured boiling hot chocolate on it. The smell and the taste were up to par with the famous French luxurious bakery – Ladurée.
In contrast with the high quality of food, the service disappoints. While it is better than similar restaurants of this class, like Frame Bar & Food, it fails to reach the expectations I had. The staff refuses to bring the dishes in proper order even when asked to. Only a third of them speak fluent English. When they speak in Bulgarian, however, the staff is polite, attentive and trying to please every request. The key word is trying.
I have seen the staff on three occasions to dispose trash coming from the kitchen during working hours and while customers are eating. Also they transfer products to the kitchen, again during working hours and with consumers present. After contacting the Regional Directorate for Food Safety Blagoevgrad they pointed out that transporting product to the kitchen during working hours is illegal in Bulgaria.
The high prices are not for everyone, but at least the food is up to par. Every time I visit the restaurant I am never disappointed, because I know what I will get and that I will enjoy the experience they offer, although all the little irritating flaws are there. I highly recommend la storia for a special occasion or even an intimate lunch.