A few weeks ago, we were invited to have dinner at Dolmama, by now a culinary landmark and foodie tourist destination in Yerevan. It had been years since my previous meal there - somehow it had fallen off of our list of regular haunts to frequent. I remember Jirayr Avanyan opening a tiny restaurant on Pushkin with 3-4 tables and a simple cooktop in the corner of the dining area many years ago; following a very creative series of expansions, Dolmama has grown in size but fortunately not in spirit or ego.
Two days ago, we reciprocated the invitation to our very close friends. Of course, no dinner at Dolmama would be the same without Jirayr's heartfelt welcome into the world he has created. We sat in the grape-vine covered back yard, an oasis of calm and serenity in the otherwise crowded and busy "little center" of Yerevan. We enjoyed an amazing leisurely dinner, with appetizers and main courses transporting our taste buds to truly unique places in Jirayr style, accompanied by the wonderful Artsakh-produced Kataro red wine.
Dolmama has achieved a "premier" reputation as the place to eat foodie-level Armenian food, and there are many examples of of similar restaurants becoming spoiled, blaze or over-confident in the process. Wednesday's meal reminded me that this need not always be true. Jirayr, thank you for remaining so passionate and positive about your move to Armenia, and for giving us the opportunity to ride on your magic carpet, again and again!