Review: Lavash Cafe

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Ethnic, Food Porn, Restaurant Review

By now (based on how many reviews I’ve done for restaurants in this particular vein), it should be readily apparent that I’m a sucker for good Mediterranean/Middle Eastern Cuisine. I hadn’t been introduced to it until almost a decade ago, when I visited a (now gone) Firdous location in Upper Arlington that had, in my opinion, the best schwarma and hummus platter that money could buy. I was absolutely crestfallen when they closed up shop.

Imagine my delight when I found out that Firdous’ former owner, Nasir Latif, had opened up a new venture called Lavash Cafe, a fast casual (think in the realm of Aladdin’s, but locally owned) restaurant smack dab right there in Clintonville. Not only would I get the opportunity to taste my favorites once again, but another restaurant in a place that’s sorely hurting for restaurants? There are no losers in this equation.

Lavash Cafe Sign (Clintonville, OH)

The space is very wide open and well-decorated, with great use of textures and fabrics (especially lining the one wall). Upon entering, you’re greeted with the smiling faces of the employees, an overhead menu board, and a two huge display cases – one of a dozen or more types of Middle Eastern pastries, another with kebabs and keftas just waiting to be grilled to order. It took us a few minutes of craning our necks to decide, but ultimately we decided to get several different dishes to try as much as possible, leftovers be damned.

We started with an order of Kibbeh ($2.50), which is a cracked bulghur wheat and meat shell surrounding nicely seasoned meat. This is as good as any variation on this dish I’ve tried, and the homemade lebneh (very thick strained plain yogurt) served with it was a nice touch.

Kibbeh from Lavash Cafe (Clintonville, OH)

Wanting to have an opportunity to try as many of their appetizers as possible, we ordered the Lavash Combo ($8.25), which pairs their hummus, tabouleh, falafel and stuffed grape leaves on a single plate. Their hummus is smooth and flavorful, and just as I remembered. The falafel are exceptional – on my next visit, I’ll be ordering them for sure (and at 6 for $2.50, it’s quite the deal). I was indifferent about the tabouleh and stuffed grape leaves (personal preference – I prefer kisir to tabouleh because I like more wheat than parsley, and I prefer my grape leaves to be more sweet than these were), but my husband who is a purist said that both were quite excellent and a good interpretation of a classic dish.

Lavash Sampler from Lavash Cafe (Clintonville, OH)

Of course, a huge basket of fluffy pita was provided, and refilled quickly and with friendly service when we ran low.

Basket of Pita from Lavash Cafe (Clintonville, OH)

The Baba Ganoush ($3.50) was out of this world – nice and smoky in flavor, and with a superb smooth texture and wonderful mouth feel, we scooped this up quickly and happily and quickly declared it the best we’ve had so far in Columbus.

Baba Ganoush from Lavash Cafe (Clintonville, OH)

I’m not one to usually get beverages with my meals (I’m almost exclusively a water drinker), but a smoothie sounded too good to pass up. This Strawberry Smoothie ($3.85) was a bit smaller than I expected, but refreshing nonetheless.

Strawberry Smoothie from Lavash Cafe (Clintonville, OH)

One of the great things about Lavash Cafe is that they allow you to modify entrees slightly to suit your needs. They let me add lamb and chicken (for an additional $2.50) to an otherwise vegetarian dish. Their Mojadara ($7.25), aka lentil rice, had spot on flavor and texture, and was even better than most I’ve had with the addition of wonderful caramelized onions on top. It was served with a Lavash salad, which is a refreshing combination of cucumbers and tomatoes in a tahini dressing. The addition of the meat was just what this dish needed. The lamb was mildly spiced, whereas the chicken was a little more in your face, but in a good way (I think I detected ras el hanout as the spice blend, but I’m not positive). My only complaint is that the chicken was a bit on the dry side.

Lentil Rice from Lavash Cafe (Clintonville, OH)

My husband went with the Chicken Schwarma platter ($8.50), which paired the same type of chicken I had added to my dish with a serving of saffron rice. We’re not exactly sure what kind of sauce it was paired with, but it complemented it nicely.

Chicken Schwarma and Saffron Rice from Lavash Cafe (Clintonville, OH)

His entree also came with a side salad, nice and fresh and chock full of crunchy vegetables.

Salad from Lavash Cafe (Clintonville, OH)

We love the pastries, so we got a few to take with us – pictured here ($1.50 each) are the bassma, cashew finger, and one which we didn’t get the name of, but is basically a honey soaked cake.

Desserts from Lavash Cafe (Clintonville, OH)

We’ll definitely be back – Lavash Cafe fills many voids for us: the return of fresh and fast Mediterranean, a place to eat when we’re hanging out in Clintonville, and lots of friendly faces. They haven’t been open long, but I’m predicting that precisely because they do what they do so well, they’ll be one of the few success stories that manage to perservere despite this being a really tough time to open a new restaurant.

If you’d like to go: Lavash Cafe, 2985 N. High Street, Clintonville, 614.263.7777

Lavash Cafe on Urbanspoon

20 Responses to “Review: Lavash Cafe”

  1. chaptal Says:

    Ate here last night. Had the chicken entree. Half a chicken. It was a big chicken. Could not finish my meal and had no room for any dessert. Next time.

    Great to see Mr. Latif back in business.

  2. Elizabeth Lessner Says:

    Lavash is taking a bite out of my Pita Hut habit…hooray for Clintonville and it's growing great food options!

  3. Kellygrreen Says:

    I can't wait to take my kids here! Thanks for pointing this out.

  4. Amy Brennick Says:

    CFoodie. I know I have said this before, but your photography is out of this world. I wish you would begin reviewing building facades and street people so we could get some amazing photos of the city…

  5. columbusfoodie Says:

    Wow, I didn't even notice the half a chicken on the menu. Sounds delicious.

  6. columbusfoodie Says:

    I've still got the Pita Hut love (I eat there all the time, I *so* have to hunker down and actually write a review of the place) – Pita Hut's falafel sandwich is so good that I usually order that instead of a meat-based sandwich, and that's saying a lot for a die hard meat lover like me. ::sigh:: Now you've got me craving Pita Hut, damn you. ;)

  7. columbusfoodie Says:

    Thanks for the complement. I think it's 99% that it's a good camera (and point and shoot at that) – I've been planning on photographing at Greenlawn Cemetary for ages now, waiting for just the right misty, foggy morning (when it's warmer, too!)

  8. Sharon Says:

    Oh my gosh, everything looks divine! That strawberry shake looks amazing, and so does everything else. Amazing pictures!

  9. Rina Says:

    i looooove Lavash's kibbehs and the falafels. being married to a middle eastern hubby, i often cook food from the region and make my own falafels and kibbehs, but i couldn't make kibbeh as moist as those at Lavash. those are divine, seriously. gosh, just seeing the photo makes my mouth water :-) thanks for the review! it makes me wanting to try their platter entrees next time; i'm a sucker for Lavash Combo and the fluffy pitas. and, since someone brought up Pita Hut Grille, i must say if it's not because of its location up in Graceland, i'll go there more often for a more casual dining or take out, and save a few bucks on the bill. alas, the savings don't add up when you have to take the bus to get there, especially when Lavash is less than a mile walk from my shop. but i love PHG's enormous salad combo (i think it's about $6.99), so yes, CFoodie, you should write the long overdue review.

  10. Steve Teter Says:

    Lavash started out as a very good restaurant on the day it opened and has gotten even better with time. Give an experienced and successful Restauranteur/Chef like Nasir Latif a little time to streamline his operation and implement some of his famous recipes, and the result is near-perfection. I eat there several times a week and the food is consistently fantastic while very affordable. You must try the lamb gyro (shwarma) on lavash bread, and the fresh cut french fries. If it weren't for his amazing daily specials, I'd eat that gyro and fries every day! For dessert, I highly recommend the Cinnamon Bun Cheesecake! This restaurant is a credit to our city!

  11. Steve Teter Says:

    Lavash started out as a very good restaurant on the day it opened and has gotten even better with time. Give an experienced and successful Restauranteur/Chef like Nasir Latif a little time to streamline his operation and implement some of his famous recipes, and the result is near-perfection. I eat there several times a week and the food is consistently fantastic while very affordable. You must try the lamb gyro (shwarma) on lavash bread, and the fresh cut french fries. If it weren't for his amazing daily specials, I'd eat that gyro and fries every day! For dessert, I highly recommend the Cinnamon Bun Cheesecake! This restaurant is a credit to our city!

  12. Kresnadi Blog Says:

    We will definitely go to Lavash Cafe after reading your review. We love Nazareth on 161 and cleveland ave. and they also have delicious babaganoush, hummus, and chicken schwarma. You Rock!

  13. Tamar Says:

    If you like this kind of food, you have to try the new Olive Tree Cafe in Hilliard (3185 Hilliard-Rome Rd.) Great Mediterranean food like hummus, falafel and tabouli salad. Eggplant salad was great too.I didn't get the gyro but others in the restaurant were raving about it. You can get a spicy gyro as well.

  14. Weekend Deets. Last Day of Mini Summer Vacation « Gina Is Eating Says:

    [...] I get to see JJM on a regular basis again upon my return to Columbus.  Also, Jeni’s and Lavash and – a new place I’ve been meaning to try for months – On The [...]

  15. abovecolumbus Says:

    #39abovecolumbus Says:
    July 25th, 2009 at 2:53 am
    Now you heard about lavash go check out Simple Sweets two doors down. The owner is Nasier’s nephew, Matt Latif. They don’t sell baklava but rather than American traditional sweets, baked by Jackie Latif ( Matt’s wife) who has been “taking recipes from family and picking up some from various sources.” http://columbus.craigslist.org/eve/1259186566.htm

    The Overload Chocolate cake is my favorite!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. abovecolumbus Says:

    #39abovecolumbus Says:
    July 25th, 2009 at 2:53 am
    Now you heard about lavash go check out Simple Sweets two doors down. The owner is Nasier’s nephew, Matt Latif. They don’t sell baklava but rather than American traditional sweets, baked by Jackie Latif ( Matt’s wife) who has been “taking recipes from family and picking up some from various sources.” http://columbus.craigslist.org/eve/1259186566.htm

    The Overload Chocolate cake is my favorite!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Cindy Says:

    Hey Becke, what type of camera do you use for taking the food porn pics?

  18. columbusfoodie Says:

    For these, I used a Pentax Optio A20. That camera has since broke (well, the card reader stopped reading), and now I'm using a Fujifilm Finepix F200EXR. Both are ultra compact point and shoot cameras.

  19. Cindy Says:

    Thanks for the follow up! I am searching for a p&s camera that will take decent macro shots and I always find your pictures compelling :)

  20. r4i Says:

    Looks so delicious and tasty. But where is the recipe. Please share the recipe with us.

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