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Cafe Baklava, Mountain View, report

Dan Henderson | Jan 8, 200611:00 PM

After all the help you guys have given me over the last several years, I thought I'd post a meal report on a fairly new restaurant. I'm no gourmand and have not the slightest clue about such sophisticated topics as wine pairings, so don't get your hopes up for The Definitive Review; I'm just hoping to be helpful.

This is about my first visit to Cafe Baklava (341 Castro St., Mountain View 94041, 650.969.3835). My girlfriend and I walked in, without a reservation, at about 6 p.m. this past Friday, January 6, 2006, and were seated immediately. The place is decorated in travel posters (mostly Turkey) on red brick walls, and has a faux grape arbor on the ceiling. Large windows open into a pedestrian walkway between buildings in downtown Mountain View. We didn't have trouble finding parking in the parking lot behind the building.

We didn't get any appetizers or salads and since my girlfriend is the only one who drinks wine, she was content with a glass of the house red, while I drank iced tea. The waiter delivered a complimentary basket of pita bread with a dish of some sauce that reminded me of nothing so much as Green Goddess salad dressing, but it was good with the bread.

We both ordered the same one of the four nightly specials, which was four rib lamb chops (I remember two of the other specials, which were lamb shank and petrale sole), accompanied by Mediterranean white long-grain rice with what may have been a few chickpeas in it, and grilled vegetables, which seemed to consist mostly of a couple of kinds of squash and red bell pepper. We also ordered a dish of cacik, which seems to be the Turkish version of raita (creamy yogurt with some finely chopped vegetables stirred in). The ends of the lamb chop ribs were wrapped in aluminum foil.

I'm writing this whole review mostly to say this: These were the most tender and flavorful lamb chops I've ever eaten in my life. I don't order lamb chops often, so that's not saying as much as it may sound like it is, but it impressed me enough that I wanted to share the wealth here.

We tried two of their desserts: baklava and something called kunefe. The baklava was prepared with finely-chopped pistachios (which I gather is typical of the Turkish variety). I had never had kunefe before; it looked like a dessert tostada: some phylo dough with a layer of a creamy white cheese on top, topped with something crumbly, soaked in honey. I didn't think it was very good, and it suffered all the more from having been burned on the bottom. I won't order it again.

Service was attentive, though the kid who came to clear away the plates didn't seem to speak much English, and we were not sure we got across that we wanted to take the rib bones home for the dogs, but he duly brought back a small styrofoam container with the bones. The check was a bit of a surprise; each of our entrees cost $21, the cacik was $4.50, the baklava and kunefe each $6. The wine was $4, and my iced tea and my girlfriend's coffee with dessert were each $1.50, for a total of $71 for the two of us.

We'll certainly return sometime, since the lamb chops were so memorably good, but we'll be aware of the expense and save it for a time when we're feeling more flush than we usually are.

I hope that was helpful.

Warm regards to all,


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