December 2008 Roundup

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Meta, Monthly Roundup, Recipes

I’m just about caught up now. The menus and events are mostly up to date (still have a bunch to add, but the ones that are there are still good last I checked), got a bunch of reviews I still need to post, but I’m in a much better position now than I was weeks ago. So now I’m finally getting December’s roundup out – January’s should be up as soon as I get through the 11,000 posts still in my feed reader. ;)

In sweet recipes, Apple Cake from A Daily Obsession, Eggnog Rice Pudding from Baking Bites, Peppermint Oreo Bark from Bakingblonde’s Weblog, Spiced Pumpkin Waffles from Bowl of Berries, Cake Balls from bread & honey, Andes Creme de Menthe Chunk Cookies from Check It Out, Spiced Cranberry (Overnight) Oatmeal from Coconut & Lime, Easy Peanut Butter Cups from Cooking This and That, Apple Brown Betty from Culinary Cory, Nigella’s Baklava Muffins from Divine Domesticity, Deep, Dark, Salted Butter Caramel Sauce from Eat With Me, Fleur de Sel Vanilla Bean Caramels from Good Eats ‘n Sweet Treats, Watergate Cake from Grandma’s Kitchen, Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding from justJENN recipes, Spiced Cranberry Bundt Cake from The Kitchen Sink, Challah French Toast with Sauteed Apples from Lemonbasil, Potato-Chip Cookies from Noble Pig, Ici’s Ricotta Ice Cream from :pastry studio, and Brown Sugar Rum Poundcake from Urban Drivel.

In savory recipes, Mac and Cheese with Butternut Squash and Chicken and Sweet Potato Curry from A Good Appetite, Grilled Steak with Bernaise Butter from A Year at Oak Cottage, CrockPot Chicken Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken) and Little Dipper Pizza Fondue from A Year of CrockPotting, Corn and Poblano Chowder from Amicus Cupcake, Sage and Clementine Roast Chicken from Appoggiatura, Not Your Mother’s Cream Spinach from Baking Delights, Sweet Potatoes with Sausage, Cheese, Cilantro and Lime from bitchincamero, Rabbit in Mustard Cream Sauce from The Bitten Word, Garlic Lover’s Bread from BitterSweet, Butternut Dumplings with Brown Butter and Sage from Bowl of Berries, Mjadara from Caramelized OpiNIONs, Chicken Tortilla Soup from Cave Cibum, Acorn Squash with Ground Lamb and Whole Wheat Couscous from City Girl Lifestyle, Turkey and Cranberry Quesadillas and Squash Chili Mole from Closet Cooking, Sweet Potsticker Pork with Udon Noodles from Conversations with a Cupcake, Baked Spaetzle Casserole from Cooking With Cristine, Coq Au Vin for One from The Courageous Cook, Taco Pie and Cider-Braised Chicken from The Crepes of Wrath, Creamy Mexican Turkey Soup from Culinary Adventures of a New Wife, The Best Damn Casserole Ever from Culturally Confused, Greek Wedding Soup from Dining Alone, Kartoffelsalat mit Wurstchen from East Meets West, Moroccan Chicken Tagine from [eatingclub] vancouver, Laksa from feast with bron, Spaghetti-O’s with Turkey Meatballs from For the Love of Cooking, Quinoa Spinach Gratin from The Garden of Eating, Spiced Chicken with Couscous Pilaf from got no milk, Roasted Garlic Gravy from Grocery Eats, Vegetarian Paella from Herbivoracious, Fricadelle over Potatoes and Caramelized Onions from My Husband Cooks, Down Home Chicken and Dumplings from One Bite at a Time, Chicken in a Rich Red Lentil and Coconut Milk Sauce from QlinArt, Syrian Tomato-Rice Soup with Kibbeh from Spoonbread for Hieronymus, Creamy Cauliflower Garlic Soup from Straight from the Farm, Baked Tortellini from Tart Reform, Ham and Cheese in Puff Pastry from Taste Buds, and Paella Cakes with Manchego and Candied Seville Orange Peel from The Vegetarian Foodie.

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