Thursday, July 06, 2006

The return of Reviews You Can Use


fatoush, baba ganouj, potatoes & pita
Originally uploaded by bunchofpants.

It's been a long time since I've reviewed a restaurant here at Pantsville. Usually I'm moved to write a review by a totally crap experience (Cheescake Factory: Blecch!). Today it's quite the opposite: I had a heavenly lunch and I must proselytize.

There's a new place in downtown Raleigh, on Salisbury St. (upstairs from Nero's, next to the Subway--it's where the Station II used to be) called the Baba Ganouj Mediterranean Grill. Holy crap it's good. Last week I got a falafel pita there, and it was probably the freshest, tastiest falafel pita I had ever eaten. I watched the guy make it, and he placed everything in the pita so perfectly and with great care--as if it were going to be the only falafel pita he would make all day and so it better be good. I almost felt bad asking them to wrap it to go--a work of art like that should have been savored on a plate, right away. Nonetheless, even after being wrapped in foil and transported two blocks to my office, it was still one damn fine falafel pita.

Monday I got their "3 sides and a drink" plate. I chose baba ganouj, hummus and falafel. The baba ganouj was a revelation. Done incorrectly, baba ganouj can be a nightmare. I've shied away from baba ganouj many times because bad baba ganouj will ruin your day. But done well it's like a little flavor circus in your mouth--each delicate essence performing little backflips in perfect balance over a creamy safety net. Or something ... I dunno, I'm not a real food writer, I just play one on the internets. Anyway, this place gets it right--so right that I couldn't wait to get back to Baba Ganouj for more of their namesake dish.

I was even willing to walk through the rain today to get my fix. This time I got the baba ganouj (of course!) with fatoush and a potato dish that they simply called "potatoes." But these weren't just any potatoes. They were the best facking potatoes I had ever eaten. Seriously, I said that out loud a couple of times to my co-workers. And silently to myself I though "Goddamn these are some good potatoes!" They were fried in garlic and parsley, and then I think they were sprinkled with lemon juice--or at least that's what it tasted like. The fatoush was veggilicious and the the baba ganouj was even better than before.

The only drawback to the Baba Ganouj Mediterranean Grill is that it's in Raleigh. We need a place like this in Durham. I also believe that it's only open during the day on weekdays because downtown Raleigh is a dead zone at night. At any rate, if you do find yourself in downtown Raleigh on a weekday and you need some outstanding grub, there is no choice. You must eat at Baba Ganouj.

10 comments:

lalitree said...

There's a placed (or two) called Baba Ganouj in Durham...not the same? I know there's one down near 54 & Fayetteville, and possibly one on Erwin?

Lisa B. said...

OOh--I'll look into that and see if they are the same people. Thanks!

georg said...

according to our pals at the Indy, it's the same -- locations in Raleigh, Cary and two in Durham (Homestead, on 54, near SouthpointY, and in the Wachovia complex, near Ninth St)

Lisa B. said...

Oooh--the Wachovia complex is close by! I'll definitly have to try it!

I'm surprised it's a chain because the guys treat the food as if it's their homemaded pride and joy.

scott said...

holy cats Lisa, I laughed my butt off when I saw "we need a place like this in Durham." Yep, the same folks own the one at Erwin square. I agree that their baba gannouj is THE best, and it does indeed do circusy things in the mouth. Everything they do is quite awesome. They also have a desert made from sweetened bulgur that is very tasty - can't remember what it is called. For carnivorous types, the lamb shawarma is money as well.

Don't think of it as a chain - mickey d's is a chain - think of it as a good, locally owned multi-location restaurant with high eggplant standards.

elsacapuntas said...

I eat at the one in Cary frequently when I'm visiting the parents out there - same great food and service at that location. The hot sides are heavenly.

dick umbrage said...

i got the runs just reading the phrase "station II."

Lisa B. said...

I used to get the veggie platter from Station II al the time ... never hurt me none!

dick umbrage said...

i was a victim of the falafel. i think they doused it in meat juice.

georg said...

mmm... meat juice