Went to cafe Baraka with a group of 7 last night. I was very pleasantly surprised. We shared lots of meze plates for appetizers. Smoky eggplant was outstanding -- so much flavor packed in every bite. The cheese plate with figs was excellent. It consisted of feta like cheese, and a very creamy (almost creme fraiche consistency) cheese. Couple of whole dried figs that came with the dish were cooked in auromatic syrup and were a perfect accompaniment for the cheeses. The chick pea custard was dense and creamy at the same time. It came with a well dressed little salad and harrisa. The carrots with spices were tender and very sweet. The white bean soup needed some salt, but once we added a pinch, it was very flavorful. The soup had some red spice in it that gave it a very nice flavor. All these little plates were $3.50. The cheese fig plate and chick pea custard were more expensive. I don't remember exact prices but I guess they were $5-6. The bread served with appetizers was the best pita I ever had. It was brushed with oil and spices, lightly grilled, and served hot.
I didn't get to try other people's entrees, but everyone's plates were clean and people seemed very happy. I got a rack of lamb done medium-rare with couscous, spinach, leeks, and almond cake. Wow -- what a dish!!! The lamb was done just like I asked and was juicy, tender, and perfectly flavored. There was a good bit of reduced brothy sauce to dip each delectable morcel of lamb into. Couscous was very fine and buttery. Spinach and leeks were prefect. The spinach was sauteed so quickly it had a chance to warm up and soften a bit, but was not wilted. It gave a dish the needed fresh vegetable counterpoint. The almost cake was sweet (I can see serving it with tea for dessert), but it went perfectly with lamb. This was the most expensive entree on the menu at $15. I've had many lamb racks before and this was definitely one of the best and comparable to an entree I'd expect to be $30 in an upscale restaurant.
For dessert we shared a vanila creme brule and flourless chocolate cake. Creme brule was quite good, though no vanila specs. Chocolate cake was way too sweet for me, but the other folks really enjoyed it. I guess you have to like really sweet desserts to enjoy it -- it's a sugar bomb.
Baraka does not serve alcohol, but their mint tea is very nice. They also have a rose lemonade. Many people in our group really liked it, but it wasn't my thing (I don't like rose flavored or sweet drinks).
The service is friendly but very casual and slow at times. It did not bother us at the slightest since we were talking and having a really wonderful time, but don't come here if you are in a rush.
It was a fantastic meal and we'll definitely come back.
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