Saturday, October 05, 2013

Finding a new restaurant

I always joke that I travel on my stomach. Finding new restaurants in strange cities is one of my life's great delights. Tonight I didn't have to go far. Friends took me to dinner at Celaborelle, a Phoenician buffet not a mile from my house. I have to add that it is in a neighborhood where I wouldn't normally think of going. But it was a fascinating experience.
The restaurant is in an old house that reminds you that Hemphill Avenue was once a street of grand homes. This one seems to have been maintained intact, with dark woodwork, hardwood floors, a tiled fireplace angled into what was probably the parlor. The front door sits at an angle, so that the whole house avoids that square as a box appearance. A tantalizing staircase leading to the second floor had me curious, but I'm told if the restaurant is crowded at lunch diners can eat upstairs (they currently aren't serving lunch). Apparently there used to be a lunch buffet but a web site says that's suspended until they get more staff. Celaborelle changes from time to time, and occasionally closes for long periods so the owners can visit Lebanon.
Dinner is casual at best. You order from a huge whiteboard that is crowded with so many items I couldn't take them all in. I chose lamb shish kebabs because the lamb was recommended and because I'd gone there craving lamb. One of our party ordered beef kabobs, and the third the vegetarian meal which turn out to be such an enormous banquet that we could only laugh. The wait lady kept bringing dish after dish--lentil soup, hummus, spicy mushrooms, spinach pie. For an appetizer we had some of the best tabouli I've ever eaten and baba ganoush (eggplant dip)--huge servings of both.
Dinner is not a hurried affair here since everything is cooked from scratch when you order it; it comes out of the kitchen in bits and pieces. By the time my lamb arrived I was already full of the appetizers and bits of Steve's vegetarian meal--a taste of soup, a piece of the spinach pie (absolutely delicious). My lamb kebobs were piled on a huge serving of rice scattered with grilled vegetables, but the kebabs themselves were pure lamb in a marvelous marinade--two skewers loaded with eight good-sized chunks of lamb each. I brought home enough to feed me for a week.
We lingered over dinner for over two hours and enjoyed every minute of it. Thanks much to Della and Steve for giving me a whole new dining experience--and the great pleasure of their company. What a delightful evening.

No comments: