Headed there last night with a friend without reservations around 7pm, knowing we were taking a chance. We had a choice to wait 45 minutes for a table or eat at the bar, waiting only 10 minutes. We chose the bar.
Knowledgeable bartender, Steven, recommended a couple of wines based on what our dinner choices were going to be - an Italian Chardonnay Blend for my friend called La Segreta, and a full-bodied Italian red zinfandel for me that was relatively new on their menu, per the bartender - Primitivo Zinfandel. Very good and not overly tannic.
We shared the Spicy Carrot Puree with the dukkah and olive oil and tiny nuts that looked like sesame seeds. It wasn't overly spicy, but had a slight sweetness from the carrots and a nice spice from whatever comprises the dukkah that was sprinkled into the olive oil. As previously written, a bit difficult to get up on the bread unless you use a knife, but a very nice start.
For an appetizer, Steven said the entrees were big, so we might want to go with just one - we chose the Tamarind-Glazed Beef (short ribs) with Syrian-style lentils and were very glad we did - this was absolutely wonderful! The beef was butter-tender, and the tamarind glaze gave it a wonderful flavor. Neither of us had had lentils in years, and however they make them complemented the beef quite nicely, and this ended up being my favorite dish of the evening - EVERYTHING was good, but this was the best, IMO. I heard many more orders called out in the kitchen for the Ribs - two and three at a time, so they're obviously very popular.
For an entreé, my friend got the Flattened Lemon Chicken with Za' atar and a Turkish Cheese Pancake, and I got the Grilled Venison with Beet and Potato Pancake with a Brown Butter Tomato Sauce & Yogurt. Loved my friend's chicken, and even more so, the cheese pancake, which we were told was a mixture of feta, ricotta and one other cheese and lightly fried. Very tasty with the tender chicken and the spices sprinkled on the skin. She ended up only eating half of the chicken, so the other half went home with her tonight for a chicken salad sandwich today for lunch.
My venison was three large 2" cubes of skewered meat, perfectly cooked medium rare (I wasn't asked how I wanted it cooked, but was perfectly happy with medium rare, as that's how I would have ordered it), with a wonderful spice mixture on it - at first I thought they'd be slightly too spicy for my taste, overwhelming everything else, but the cooling yogurt and tomato sauce underneath, along with the crispy shredded beet & potato pancake, helped balance out all of the flavors. Absolutely scrumptious! I like the idea of shredded beets and potatoes to make a great side dish of pancakes. Will have to remember that.
Steven had told us to save room for dessert, which I had already planned on, since I already knew what I was going to get on their main menu - Candied Ginger Parfait with Pineapple Granite and Roasted Pineapple. Oh lordy, lordy was that stuff good! I'm a sucker for ginger, and this was just the right amount of ginger and sweetness, perfectly balanced. The only issue I had was that the roasted pineapple wasn't roasted enough, and given only a large tablespoon to eat the dessert with, it was a bit difficult to cut the pineapple - and the bartender was a bit rushed with other clientele, so I made do.
My friend went with the dessert special (after much prodding from me, as I wanted to try it as well!): a Rhubarb and Rose Sharbat (sp?) (like a sherbet, but thinner - in fact, she got a small straw in the short glass it was in - it seemed more like a milkshake) with a Strawberry and Jersey Cream Tart. Both were absolutely wonderful as well! The sharbat was ... oh, I don't know - it wasn't sweet, it wasn't tart (as rhubarb can tend to be) - it was just great, like a soft, soothing thin moussy-pudding. And the Jersey cream - like creme fraiche but not as sour - thick, sweet cream with wonderfully sweet small strawberries in a beautifully flaky pastry crust. She also got a capucchino, and she said it was good, but it was so completely secondary to the desserts. :-)
After we had had the Tamarind-Glazed Beef Short Ribs, I asked the bartender if Ana ever gave out recipes. He said to ask the hostess on the way out. Sure enough, when we left, I asked, and she said "would you prefer an EMail?" so I jotted down an Email address for her to send it to. I can't wait. I can see making a big pot of those short ribs in the winter for a wonderful stew, but I don't know if I can wait that long.
Total bill before tip was $112, but $34 of that was the two glasses (each) of wine we had, so a very reasonable dinner.
We waited *way* too long to go here, and I'm definitely not going to wait again to go back. Plus you can park on the side streets on Sunday without a parking permit, so that's an added benefit of going on Sunday evening.
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