The Rich Vegetarian

An Examined Life

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Tag: Sandy Springs (page 1 of 3)

Visit to Aladdin’s

It was a lovely Sunday afternoon. We happened to be in Sandy Springs, and lunch was beckoning. P suggested we go to Aladdin’s Mediterranean Grill & Deli on Roswell Road. I enjoy Mediterranean food, so off we went.

Alladin's

It has been a long time since I have eaten at a restaurant and enjoyed the experience so immensely, PLUS I managed to get a few good photographs (thanks to the gorgeous light and the wide windows at Aladdin’s), so I thought a blog post was merited.

The menu is fairly simple at Aladdin’s. I wish I had clicked a shot of the blackboard with the handwritten menu. There are many vegetarian options. P had visited Aladdin’s earlier for an office team lunch, so he ordered for both of us.

It was simply wonderful. The flavors, the freshness, the vibrancy of ingredients, the casual atmosphere… the trio of giggling kids at the next table, their serious-faced parents (Mom looking every bit stylish and Middle Eastern, as I’d imagine) and the Arabic music playing in the background – all in all, a supremely relaxing and delicious lunch experience.

Minty Water

Minty Water

Let’s take a moment to talk about water?

How adorable, right? Giant glass tumblers filled with cool water, a dash of rosewater, fresh mint leaves and lemon slivers make for a refreshing beverage.

We ordered a bowl of Lentil Soup and the Vegetarian Platter. The lentil soup was simply flavored yet hearty in taste and texture. It came with a generous portion of pita croutons. I would have happily dumped the whole pile of croutons into the soup and slurped it all down, but I controlled myself… Sigh.

The Vegetarian Platter contained: Baba Ghanoush, Tahini sauce, four Falafels, Dolma, Jerusalem Salad, Tabouli and Hummus dip.

Can I just say that every item was delicious? It’d make for such a hackneyed description and a boring blog post but I think you understand my drift? These are the same dishes that grace the menus of most (if not all) Mediterranean eateries in the U.S., yet the freshness of the ingredients and the simplicity of preparation made for a delicious lunch repast.

Alladin

I wasn’t planning to eat the pita bread but their pillow softness was so tempting that I couldn’t resist. Made myself a generously loaded pita sandwich. The Tabouli salad was loaded with fresh parsley and lime (or lemon) juice with none of the mouth-puckering sourness. The Dolma was perfect. I am not the biggest fan of this stuffed vine leaf preparation but I enjoyed it this time.

I turned down dessert but I will give it a try next time.

Aladdin's Mediterranean Grill & Deli on Urbanspoon

Cibo E Beve

A lovely Thursday afternoon found me making my way to Cibo E Beve. It was a lunch date with Ruksana, a dear friend who happens to be a gifted writer+editor+entrepreneur+list-maker+trip-planner. She was running late from a previous appointment, so I ended up staring at the wood paneled walls, eating a little more of the bread and olive oil than I’d have liked, and drawing up lists of to-make recipes until she arrived.

Menu at Cibo E Beve

Menu at Cibo E Beve

The menu at Cibo E Beeve is brief and there are a handful of vegetarian options. I thought that the Winter Fennel Salad (frisee, fennel, satsuma mandarins, smoked bacon, marcona almonds, buttermilk dressing) sounded heavenly. Minus the smoked bacon, of course. I half-thought I’d order it but as the minutes dragged on, I forgot. Winter Caprese (burrata, fried eggplant, heirloom tomato, balsamic, basil oil) also would be awesome, I think.

After Ruksana arrived, we placed our orders. She got the San Marzano Tomato and Cream Soup and the Cibo Beef Meatballs. I asked for the Veggie Pesto Pie (veggies, roasted tomato, broccoli, pistachio-basil pesto, fresh mozzarella). Ruksana loved the food (you can go check out her review on Yelp). The portions were substantial too; she asked for a box for the leftover meatballs.

I was not too impressed with the pizza. It is a large-sized one (probably 8″) and I couldn’t eat more than two quarters. The edges looked (and tasted) burnt and the mozzarella lacked the fresh and creamy gooeyness. The roasted tomatoes added a neat little sour punch although I thought that the taste was more redolent of sun-dried tomatoes. Not complaining, mind you. The pesto felt fairly dry in texture and I couldn’t detect any notes of pistachio in there either.

Veggie Pesto Pizza

Veggie Pesto Pizza

Main course done, we decided to split an order of Classic Tiramisu (Pavesini, mascarpone mousse, espresso, dark chocolate). It came in a little white ramekin, pretty and petite. My thoughts? I felt it was very light and smooth in texture, almost frothy and pillowy in its soft creaminess… but too milky-sweet and eggy for my taste. I’d have preferred a darker flavor. In fact, I think I’ll avoid Tiramisu in the future. Every once in a while I turn a blind eye with regards to the presence of eggs in desserts but mostly I feel strongly about avoiding them, so I will simply make a resolution and stick to it… good luck to me!

Tiramisu

Tiramisu

Would I go back to Cibo E Beeve again? Not sure. The menu has a few nice-sounding vegetarian options but probably not enough for me to justify another trip. Maybe the next time, I will simply ask the server if the chef can make me a vegetarian dish. Going by how nice the server was (he was attentive, helpful and pleasant), I think I have a good chance. Actually, most of the menu items sound like they can be made into meat-free (even vegan) options. Take, for instance, the Chicken Pesto Sandwich (peppers, goat cheese, pesto, arugula on a sourdough roll). Keep the chicken out and I think it would make for a great vegetarian sandwich. The Ricotta Ravioli Pasta (zucchini, amatriciana sauce) sounds lovely but I wonder if the sauce is vegetarian. I doubt it is. Then there is the Fusilli Pasta on the dinner menu (rapini, sausage, chestnuts, pecorino) that would be great, I think, sans sausage.

Hmmm, maybe I should go check out dinner one of these days.

Cibo E Beve
4969 Roswell Rd
Atlanta GA 30342
404-250-8988

www.ciboatlanta.com

Lunching at Persepolis

When you drive along Roswell Road in Sandy Springs, you pass a stretch of Middle Eastern grocery stores, gyro joints, restaurants, etc. There is Rumi’s Kitchen, Makara, Fanoos, Shahrzad… then Persepolis. Actually, you may encounter Persepolis first, depending on the direction you come from, of course. Anyway, Persepolis was where Grant and I decided to meet for lunch. Grant and his lovely wife Marie write Marie Let’s Eat, a travel-food-restaurant blog based in and around Atlanta and the greater South. I think ‘Marie Let’s Eat’ has to be cutest name for a site. It conveys love, gusto, enthusiasm and zest… for life, food, each other, what have you. When Grant suggested meeting up, I scouted online for new restaurants and found that Persepolis’s menu had a vegetarian section. I was sold. So off we went.

We walked into the restaurant just when it had opened its doors for lunch. The decor is simple at Persepolis. Think oil paintings, large vases of flowers, instrumental music with Middle Eastern beats and rhythms, fragrance of grilled vegetables wafting through… Grant surveyed the lunch buffet and found it to his liking, so he went ahead and filled his plate. I ordered the Must-O-Mooseer and the Vegetarian Zereshk Polo. The restaurant was empty when we walked in but within minutes, it filled up. An old couple, then a family with kids and women in headscarves, a group of friends… soon enough, the dining room was bustling with noise and activity, servers rushing with plates of flatbread and glasses of water, etc.

Our server first brought us a plate with a giant flat bread, its surface flecked with little black seeds. Nigella seeds, maybe? A little later, a platter with herbs, cheese, little slabs of butter, soaked almonds and sliced radish was brought to the table. I wish the flatbread and the second platter had arrived together. Then came my order of Must-O-Mooseer. I broke pieces of the flatbread, layered it with sliced radish and almonds, dipped into the Must-O-Mooseer and tucked in. Not bad at all. The cheese was too tart for my taste, so I gave it a pass. Must-O-Mooseer is a bowl of diced sun-dried shallots mixed with yogurt and spices. Our server mentioned that it is generally eaten as a dip with flat bread. But $5.99 for a bowl of shallot-spiced yogurt is too steep, in my opinion.

Lunch at Persepolis

Lunch at Persepolis

Next up was my platter of Vegetarian Zereshk Polo. I was intrigued by the menu description that went ‘Basmati rice steam cooked with barberries which are sauteed in a special glazed saffron sauce. A sweet and sour dish with a skewer of two vegetable kabobs.’ For $13.99 this one better be worth it, I thought. I need not have worried. See for yourself.

Vegetarian Zereshk Polo

Vegetarian Zereshk Polo

As I discovered, barberries taste similar to cranberries. Tangy and sweet in equal parts, they made an interesting addition to the Saffron Basmati Pulao (I am guessing that ‘Polo’ is Persian for ‘Pulav?’). The rice was cooked to perfection, the skewer of grilled kabobs providing the crunch and quintessential burn marks to make the dish attractive and eye-catching. This is a huge platter, half of which came home with me. Looking forward to leftovers tonight!

Will I visit Persepolis again? I don’t know. There is another vegetarian dish on the menu that includes basmati rice, cooked lentils, sauced raisins, onions and vegetable kabobs… Mmm, tempting! Then there is dessert that we skipped this time. How do you like the sound of traditional Persian sweet fritters and ladyfingers made of honey, yogurt, saffron and rosewater? Maybe another visit will happen, Inshallah!

Persepolis Persian Cuisine
6435 Roswell Rd NE
Atlanta GA 30328
404-257-9090

www.persepoliscuisine.com