location: st. paul
the food here was lemony fresh. everything seemed to have lemons in it... even the soup. lemon is not what i think of when i think of the kurds, but really, what food comes to mind when you do?
the menu seems to have a bit in common with other middle eastern/mediterranean traditions, not surprisingly. besides the lemon, there was feta, rice, yogurt, cucumbers, and such.
i'm sure no one will be shocked that i stared with the naska nan wan paneer, a kurdish bread that was served with olives, feta with oregano, a few slices of tomato and cucumbers, and olives ($4.25 for the small). with some lemon slices. i was going to go for nareen (also $4.25 for the small, a larger app, all largers apps, are $6.25)), as was everyone else at the table (the bread topped with baked-in feta and a 'spicy red sauce'... mysterious, that sauce...) but they were out. the naska was tasty and warm, and went well with the nice, salty and creamy feta, but for what you got $4.25 seemed a lot to pay.
for what was supposed to be my main course i got the dewjik. it's a soup with chicken broth and a bit of chicken, a touch of yogurt, some rice, basil and (hey!) lemon. ($6.25 for the bowl). alas, the server brought out the soup at the same time the other people had their soup or salad. so that was bad timing on someone's part. but it was an interesting, tangy blend with the lemon. i'm sure it's good for colds. and for the price, you do get a really big bowl of soup.
another person started with bajan reshk, 'deep fried eggplant covered with yogurt and served with bread.' to quote from their menu on the internet archive, but yes, lemon was present too ($4.25 for the small). nice sauce, but there were some bits of eggplant i got in my taste that were a bit overdone. since the main dishes come with soup or salad, they got the greek-style salad with lettuce, tomatoes, feta and homemade. was there lemon on it? odds are for it.
their main course was kubey sawar, 'crushed wheat made into a dough and filled with lean ground beef, walnuts, spices, and parsley then sautéed in olive oil' ($12.50, with salad). it was reportedly very very tasty and crisp. it had the infamous red sauce on it, and it was served on lettuce with... yeah, yeah... lemon slices.
the other person started with niskena, 'a smooth blend of red lentils, sweet onion, olive oil and spices' (and lemon? you make the call!). they thought it was 'very tasty but underseasoned- needed salt; good pepper background not overpowering but present.' their main course of chicken tawa, chicken sautéed in lemon and other spices then baked in layers of potato, green pepper, onion and dried lemon (double lemon action!), served over basmati rice ($12) also needed more salt. odd they give you starch (rice) with your starch (potatoes).
they finished with a kurdish black tea ($2) 'strong black tea with cardamom a little bitter without sugar then added sugar as recommended on the menu and very refreshing complement to the meal.' (that's not the menu, that's the person who drank the tea... just to be clear).
the decor, despite the modern blue-painted walls, reminded me of 'grandma-style,' but not in a bad way.... heavy gilded mirrors, pictures of scenic vistas, various really nice carpets were hung about. service was good, but oddly waned as we were the last people left in the restaurant... it started clearing out at 7, and the place was empty when we left after 8 pm.
i'd say the entrees are the good deal, the smaller apps seem overpriced for what you get. eating here is a bit different, but not so unfamiliar to those who've eaten in mediterranean restaurants, as mentioned. and if you like lemon, score!
© the bent sun as risen