Saturday, July 15, 2006

middling to good Middle Eastern fare at PASHA CAFE, Arlington

Last night four of us ventured to the child-friendly PASHA CAFE (Lee Highway at No. Pollard) in Arlington with our two 3-year-olds. We called in advance to see if a reservation was needed, and told simply no. Upon arrival we got the last table for six, a perfect booth at the rear. Lesson One: DO RESERVE, since a huge table of 15 senior citizens occupied the center table for an early bird party.

The decor is basic; the walls a bit on the pale grayish terra coota side, reminding me of a vomit brown Impala my parents bought some 30+ years ago! There are some nice posters and artwork, but not much to write about. The service is efficient and quick when needed, and while our server poured the wines for us to taste, we had to refill our own glasses (if this is the only flaw, then they get an A-).

We quickly ordered a huge selection of appetizers (most of which run about $4-7 each):
KIBBEH-ground beef in fried crushed wheat with pinenuts, raisins and yogurt sauce
SPINACH & FETA in PHYLLO (aka Spinakopita)
FELAFEL with Tahina
EGYPTIAN STYLE (what makes them Egyptian) Stuffed GRAPE LEAVES

I only wish that hey offered a huge appetizer platter allowing us to select several of these wonderful items, especially if there are only two or three people dining and so many appetizers would be excessive. Each was indeed delicious and the dipping sauces were all superb. For wine we were impressed by the small and inexpensive list (most under $30) and started with a superb CHATEAU de TRIGNON 2002 Cotes du Rhone from Gigondas. The rear label had a T. Jefferson quote of "Good wine is a necessity of life for me," which I loved. Our second white was a Greek ASSYRTICO 2004 from Santo Wines on Santorini. This intense apple imbued wine had an overall Sauvignon Blanc crispness to it and was a nice change, especially in the heat. Our third wine was a 2001 PEDRONCELLI MERLOT from their BENCH VINEYARD in Dry Creek Valley,Sonoma. It was a warm tasty and full-bodied red that would make anyone happy, and I am glad the Pedroncelli folks have gotten their wines back up to par after having such devastatting grape disease in the past years.

Samuel chose to eat only the HUMMUS (we sneaked in a piece of schwarma) and then split a child's pizza (which was six small slices) with Joshua. They both agreed they ate a good dinner. Our entrees were decent, but not as good as the appetizers: MOORISH SHRIMP were moist and large, but needed a bit more "Middle Eastern Spice"

The MIXED GRILL was a LAMB CHOP (which came medium instead of medium rare), excellent KAFTA KEBAB and a dryish CHICKEN BREAST with some superb Slow Cooked Green Beans, and the LAMB KEBAB was nice as well, but the best dish was easily the KOSHARI of Green Lentils with spices, rice, pasta garnish, fried onion, garlic and tomato.

I thought the CAPPUCCINO PIE was nre like a simple Frozen Ice Cream Pie, but those that ordered it thought it quite good, The kids enjoyed Lemon Sorbet, and there was a CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE thats disappeared pretty fast. My BAKLAVA was tasty but suffered from a very hard bottom crust that was almost inedible.

SO, go to Pasha, order lots of appetizers, and stick with the kebabs, veggie options and you should be fine.