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Restaurants & Bars

Hookahs & Hummus @ Pride of the Mediterranean

Stanley Stephan | Jan 6, 200311:52 PM

Well, gee whiz. I didn't realize there were two restaurants in San Francisco where hookahs were on the menu. I didn't even realize there was such a thing as a hookah menu ($9.99 - $20.99). Kan Zaman on Haight also has hookahs.

Some friends who have been to the Middle East umpteen times (but are not Middle Eastern) took me to dinner at Pride of the Mediteranean.

Having no hookah experience, I didn't realize there were flavors like apple, strawberry and watermelon. So, I took a puff (apple). Eh, not for me. I'm not a smoker and this wouldn't get me hooked-ah. It's a wonder Camel hasn't come up with strawberry flavored cigarettes.

Anyway, I've been by this place on Fillmore near the Kabuki a zillion times, and never stopped because it had that mediocre look to it. If I remember it gets so so posts on this board. Well, it wasn't as bad as I suspected. It wasn't great, but it wasn't bad. What a recommendation.

The heated outdoor patio is covered with an actual bedouin lamb's wool tent. My friends say that these keep people cool in the summer and swell when it rains keeping to keep the rain out.

I liked the vegetarian items the best with the smokey baba ghannoush my personal favorite. A menu is attached with more descriptions of the food.

The only thing I really did not like was the mushroom salad with sumac. The sauteed mushrooms with onions had a grittines to them that I assumed was the sumac. I love mushrooms, but I passed on these after a bite.

The molokhia soup (a leaf of the mallow plant) was like a ground spinach soup. It was a little bland.

We had three different preparations of lamb. A claypot lamb with carrots and potatoes was on special. The lamb was baked for 5 hours and very tender. The dish was mildly spicy. However, with all the lamb, it just wasn't that flavorful. The Kufta Kebab Lamb, a ground lamb preparation was pleasant enough. And the lamb kebab was fine, if not outstanding.

I enjoyed the Turkish coffee and wonderful tea. I haven't met a bakalava that I like, but the version here wasn't objectionable. I dislike the drenched in honey version. This has a flakey top, with the honey mainly on the bottom.

Skip the Morrocan and Lebanese wines which reminded me of Mexican wines (not a good thing). The imported Middle Eastern beers are ok if not outstanding. The tea is really the best beverage.

The restaurant could use some freshening up. The hookas have burnt holes in the patio tables. Inside there's a lovely tiled fireplace with some elaborate hookahs scattered around. However everything else looks a bit tired. Middle Eastern music and videos play. On Friday and Saturaday there's a belly dancer.

There's a lunch buffet for $7.99 which I might check out on some future visit to the Kabuki Theatre.

So I can say it wasn't unpleasant if not an ultimate chow experience.

My friends did mention that once they had a hookah in Egypt where the water was mixed with Jack Danials. Now if they lose the tobacco, this might interest me, inhaling boozy smoke. THAT sounds relaxing.

I will say one thing in favor of hookahs, the smoke is not objectionable like cigarettes. Actually the tobacco on the coals smells rather nice. The steam from the water takes away the smell of the great billows of smoke that is exhaled.

I hope you'll excuse ny hookah hickness.



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