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Cafe Beirut: Son of Sam(i) Delivers On Delicious Vegetarian in JP


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Cafe Beirut: Son of Sam(i) Delivers On Delicious Vegetarian in JP

opinionatedchef | Jul 8, 2012 12:20 AM

We live just north of the city and we don’t get to JP very often, except for regular Arnold Arboretum visits. It’s actually been many many years since we drove the length of Centre St. So yesterday we did a JP recon and pulled a hatrick- Tapas Dinner at Tres Gatos followed by Bday treats at JPLicks, with takeout from Cafe Beirut for sustenance during a tiring Sunday in the gardens.

Wow, JP, you are really lookin’ good! Amazing how 20, heck, 40, years can change a place. No more the dumpy ghetto; people are taking care of their houses, fresh paint and plantings abound. And so many inviting restnts and storefronts. Also, NOW I know where(other than Somerville) the hippies moved. The counterculture thrives in JP and we felt right at home, people watching over dinner and our ice cream.

After returning and writing up our meal at Tres Gatos, I just had to sneak some tastes of our takeout (before it got cold and hard, right?) When I had originally called CB to verify their hours, the owner offered that they had “ the best baba ghanoosh anywhere”. Well. i have had alot of baba ghanoosh in my life (I love eggplant), but CB's has them all beat. I have no idea why, but it does.(Listen up, you Sevan, Arax, Eastern Lamejun, Sabra baba fans!) Smoky, creamy, clean flavors with just the right balance of tahini, lemon, garlic and olive oil. A small size baba is just not enough.(And boy does it make a great rollup with their sliced roasted eggplant.) I was also impressed with their Pumpkin Kibby in pita. The pumpkin came through in the nutty bulghur, and while the raisins made it a bit sweet for my taste, when slathered w/ tahini sauce and tomatoes, all was very right with the world. The ‘fried okra’ (me- “deep fried?”, him- “yes”) turned out to be an okra salad with tomatoes, onions....perfect refreshing summer salad. Moujadara, a blend of rice, lentils +, topped w/ deep fried shallots- will make a nice side for a grilled entree. Their Fool Moudammas was very different from that at Azima Grill (AG is Egyptian, not Lebanese) and it looked and tasted a little like refried beans but w/o cumin. Their pita bread is thin, which I like because these roll ups always end up giving you much more bread than main filling.) Their tahini sauce is tasty but , like many others,very watered down, and i would prefer it much thicker. I would warn you to stay away from the pure white garlic sauce as it has that harsh acrid flavor that results from garlic being chopped or pureed in a food processor. While the shawarma was raved on another thread, both of the shawarma I previewed ( chicken, and beef w/lamb) were exceedingly dry, like sawdust, so dry that I doubt that reheating will get them any moister, but I will try that. We shall see. Maybe they are moister earlier in the day.....(we were there at 8pm)

Fyi, the big guy out front is ‘Big Sami’s’ son.( When I asked if the recipes were the same as Sami’s

[ a regular stop for us 25 yrs ago] there was a very firm ‘No’ in response.) From this first visit, I was really delighted with some of the non-meat options, and the baba alone is worth the drive to get there, so we will at the very least get a Large next time!

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