I ate at Effendi's Oasis on upper North St. last week. Was there for lunch with a friend and found it a very pleasant and appealing spot. Nicely renovated inside (was a dive pizza place before) with linens and decent silverware,
The chef is very proud of his establishment, and speaks openly about a mid-life health crisis that caused him to change careers, getting a culinary degree at BCC then moving on to the CIA for an executive chef certificate. He is committed to healthy, homemade fresh food. Unfortunately, that means nothing is fried. His recipes are based on healthy updates of traditional food with which he grew up, using a 100 year old cookbook.
We started with some very fresh tabbouleh with lettuce leaves. It was light, not too heavy on the parsley, and very tasty. He then brought out some of his homemade lebon, which was excellent. Rather sweeter than most yogurt lebon I've tried, with chunks of cucumber and a very light taste. We ate it up so quickly he brought us more!
My companion & I split 2 lunches. The baked eggplant was very flavorful: oven baked, served chopped with tomatoes, pine nuts, feta and olives. Again, rather sweet (are you sensing a theme here?) but very appealing. The other dish was falafel, and this is where I missed the frying. I had expected he would saute them, but they were oven baked and very dry. That said, the taste was delightful, but it lost on the texture. I'm not that pure.
I wanted to try the baklava for dessert, though my companion insisted she was too full. An order ($2.75) of 2 large triangles of baklava arrived, which the waitress claimed was the standard size. I'm happy to report my friend indulged (and finished hers first!) The filling was fresh chopped walnuts and spices, not too dry but not drenched in honey or butter. Phyllo was crunchy, but not as buttery as I prefer (must be the health thing again.)
Prices are very reasonable. Lunch includes 7 & 11" pizzas on ww dough or flat bread, sandwiches and lots of salads. Lunches range from $5-8.
I'll definitely be back to try more. A very pleasant spot if you're in the Pitt and looking for a healthy alternative or something new.
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