|© John Copley|
by M.B. Lewis
Walk into the Zamaan Cafe off Plymouth Road, and the upholstered surfaces and Lebanese decor items immediately signal that this is something more than an anonymous fast food joint, genus Middle Eastern. Evocative sepia photos of sun-bleached cities and seaside castles get you primed for a rewarding cultural encounter. The rich and caringly crafted meals do not disappoint--even if you stop only long enough to grab your carryout.
A friend who sat down proclaiming he'd have a meat sandwich and nothing more ended up tasting and enjoying several of Zamaan's Lebanese signature creations. He raved most about the makale, lemony-mellow fried potatoes and eggplant cubes that were as creamy inside as the almost-whipped hummus base they sat on. Ordered at our server's recommendation from the list of eight "hummus specialties," this was perhaps the second-most popular dish we sampled on that visit. The most popular was karnabeet, an appetizer of robust-flavored sauteed cauliflower pieces adrift in a lightly stewed sea of tomato chunks, onion, parsley, and pomegranate seeds (a charismatic garnish). It was a satisfying vegetarian option--"bacony," my sister said, recognizing a smokiness that goes beyond aromatic to heartily infuse Zamaan's warm dishes.
Richness carries into other items. Fattoush salad with lots of red and green pepper amid the romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and deep-fried pita chips came drenched in maybe not a half cup but certainly a third of a cup of sumac-orange house vinaigrette. The dressing has a pleasant if mild flavor, but still I would advise ordering it on the side--and not dropping any oily forkfuls on your pants. Big but tender lightly charred beef or chicken chunks make the shish kabob pita wrap a good deal for under $5 (and according to the menu's cover, the meat is halal). White meat chicken shawarma wraps satisfy as well, with or without feta cheese but decidedly with garlic sauce. And if you like your baba ghanoush intensely garlicky, get ready to go clove-hugging here. It seems odd
What's happening in local stores and eateries, and restaurant reviews.>> Blogs