This was one of the " best new 2010 restaurants" featured in the Globe and we finally made it here tonight.
We ordered just about everything we could- 7 apps/sides; 3 entrees: 2 lamb, one chicken. To cut to the chase, at the end of the meal my anecdote was “this all tastes like Indian food without any of the spices” and My Love’s anecdote was “it’s like that Chinese waitress(long ago) that said, in response to a question about 2 different menu choices, “same sauce, diff’ent meat.” There’s nothing wrong with what we had. It’s just that I think it most likely does NOT represent Afghani food at its best.
As with our experience at The Family Restnt, Turkish, in Brookline Village( much beloved of CHs)there was a very limited pantry of ingredients: lamb,beef, chicken, onions, tomatoes, eggplant, okra, squash, carrots, yoghurt, and rice and rice, and lamb. oh, i forgot--and flavorless dried mint. It all pretty much tasted the same> mild, stewy,very good. Just boring. A place where we go once and not again. When I look back it, I guess that’s the same way we felt after going to Helmand 20 years ago.
Wikipedia says this about Afghani cuisine:
But tonight in the savories we saw no nuts, no dried fruits, no saffron, no cardamom, no goat cheese, and basically no spices except a hint of cinnamon in 1 rice dish, and red pepper or black pepper in others. It was not that long ago that America finally started to see into the amazing diversity and complexity of Indian cuisine. I am guessing that Afghan cuisine is at the beginning stage here.
I’m sure it can be dazzling. Certainly Ana Sortun’s pioneering work in introducing Boston to the rich complexity of Mediterranean and Turkish cuisine - has shown us the possibilities. Maybe Ariana’s owner/chef (and formerly Helmand chef) will get his feet wet here and proceed to venture out. That would be great.