Im back from a quick lunch at Ibbys on Grove St. and can barely hold back my joy for discovering a decent plate of hummus within a 10 block radius of both my home and my office! Ive tried most supermarket brands (and settled for an Israeli brand from Fairway, couldnt determine whether locally made or imported, which is the least offensive and OK for home consumption), and several places in Manhattan, including much touted Hoomoos Asli (homemade, alright, but thats all thats going for it). Ibbys may not be the holy grail of hummus, but it is by a long way the best I have had since moving to the US thick, smooth, with plenty of good hummus and tahini flavors and no redundant seasonings.
Ive ordered a platter of falafel, hummus, baba ghanoush and taboulleh. From the stuff hanging from the walls Ive gathered the Ibbys is run by a Syrian, and indeed everything had a sort of Syrian/Lebanese/Northern Israeli taste, right down to the excessive-in-a-good-way use of lemon juice and the typical tang of the olive oil. The Pita was definitely not the disgusting commercial stuff, but rather a sort of delicate, thin-walled, slightly charred, homemade affair.
Baba ghanoush was not the smoky type (the menu suggests that the eggplants are baked, not grilled over fire, and thankfully no liquid smoke) but skillful treatment of the eggplant was in evidence there was no raw/green/undercooked flavor. A proper amount of tahini and fresh lemon juice in abundance made it truly delicious. The falafels were good if unremarkable and kind of smallish. Taboulleh was loaded with chopped parsley and kind of dryish, but a nice thin tahini sauce made up for that. Strangely enough the taboulleh was garnished with somewhat correct diced tomato and onion, and completely uncalled for shredded carrots(?) and iceberg lettuce. A concession to American taste? Id much rather have a small accompanying plate of quartered onions, fresh/pickled Chile peppers and maybe some olives.
I didnt have time to sample more stuff, but Ill definitely be back for the foul moudammes (fava beans), lamb shawarma and kefta, stuffed grape leaves and pickled turnip (hopefully homemade and pickled with beets ) The rice pudding with pistachios sounds tempting too.
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