Driving up Westwood Blvd between Santa Monica and Wilshire, starving, I was on the lookout for a place to land.
Sunnin, Ambala Dhaba, Pomodoro, Soleil, the various fancy Persian and Italian places, sushi, Thai… WTF – Alcazar??? U-turn in traffic on Westwood, find a parking space at a failed parking meter and walk a coupla blocks south to check it out.
I’ve been to the Alcazar in Encino, and frankly I’ve never been blown away. But I had a hankering for Mid East food, so I had to try it.
GRAND OPENING was the sign.
Inside, it was clean, a lot larger than it appears from the front, with a whole back room for additional seating.
Service was nothing short of outstanding… very friendly and attentive but not overbearing.
Once I ordered, I was presented with a basket of pita and bowls of green olives and pickles (pink pickled turnips).
Shortly, a salad of romaine, Persian cucumbers and tomatoes arrived. It was dressed in a delightful lemon and parsley vinaigrette. The lemon flavor really came through and added a nice freshness.
And with it came a small bowl of baba ghanouj. This could very well be the best baba ghanouj I’ve had in years. It was quite smoky-tasting, but light. It was not heavy at all. It had some olive oil poured into an indentation in the middle, and it was a real treat.
The lamb kabob was tender, but dry. When I originally ordered it, the waiter asked if I wanted it well done or medium well. Of course I selected medium well, but in hindsight, I should have just said medium. But for being overcooked (imho), it was still remarkably tender… a little dry, but tender. And the dryness could easily be overcome by including a pickle while making little sandwiches in the pita.
It came with a roasted tomato, which was also useful in combating the dryness of the lamb. It had a unique flavor; maybe it was marinated before cooking. It was slightly tangy, and I liked it.
The rice pilaf was cooked perfectly. Tender and moist, with the individual grains keeping to themselves and not glomming together. It would have been nice if there was a jar of sumac to sprinkle over the top of the rice, but it really wasn’t necessary.
Over the top of the lamb were slices of grilled pita with a paprika and shallot coating. These were flavorful and an interesting change from the plain pita in the basket. And they were considerably fresher than the ones I’ve had at the original Alcazar in Encino.
In fact, my meals at the Encino Alcazar have never been as good as this meal.
This is a good addition to the area. The above, with a diet coke, was $16, including a surcharge for lamb instead of chicken. The regular lunch special is $9.95, and includes all of the above with chicken instead of lamb. There are also several other selections on the $9.95 lunch special menu including salmon, shwarma, lula kabob and a veggie plate… a total bargain in my view.
1303 Westwood Boulevard (3 blocks south of Wilshire)
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