Thursday, March 5, 2009

Arabia (Jardins)

Rua Haddock Lobo, 1397
Cerqueira Cesar (Jardins)

It's Restaurant Week in SP, and that means a few things. One, cheap eats. Well, it's SP, so it's not THAT cheap. But we're talking 40 Reals for a 3 course dinner where normally it would cost you maybe twice that. It also means trying some new restaurants out...and exploring some culinary paths less taken.

Some friends and I went to Arabia, on Haddock Lobo, on Wednesday night. Mary is a vegetarian, so I thought a Middle Eastern restaurant would be perfect. Also, it's been voted "Best Arabic Food" in Veja, so I thought it would be good to judge for myself.

Personally, I don't get why Middle Eastern food is so expensive here. It was good, but I am not sure that it is worth what it costs at some of these high-end restaurants. At Arabia, I think you are paying a lot for the location and decor. It's beautiful. The service is spectacular (although ours got off to a rocky start), and there are cloth napkins (my sign for a classy place).

There was a choice of 5 appetizers, 5 entrees, and 2 desserts for Restaurant Week.

Let's start with dessert. One of the choices was cardamom ice cream. I know, sounds gross. When I think of cardamom, I think of Turkish coffee. I don't like Turkish coffee. But let me tell you...this was fresh and no other flavor of ice cream I have ever had. Janhavi, however, has visited India many times (her parents are from there), and she noted that it tasted just like ice cream that she has had in India...reminiscent of other flavors like rosewater. In fact, Arabia does have rosewater ice cream on the menu...and I bet it's phenomenal.

Pedro and I shared two small pastries..the pistachio filled one was a bit dry and chewy, despite the sugary-sweet syrup we poured all over it. The little ones (I don't know what they were, but there were 3 of them, looking like small cigars) were tasy and BUTTERY. Which, of course, made them all the more delicious.

Kibe Cru - "The most famous dish in the restaurant"
Roughly translated as "raw beef". Sort of wish I had known that before we ordered it. Janhavi called it "the ceviche of meat". :) I don't believe I have had anything like it (although there is a raw meat dish served in Ethiopian restaurants) and probably won't be rushing to order it again. But it was tasty once you mixed it with the onions and chives. The bread basket is quite generous too...crisp flat breads and fresh pita (in plastic bags...why?). It's almost like having a bowlful of tortilla chips at the table.

Some kind of veggie puree with nuts, green peppers, and special spices. Probably the tastiest thing we flavorful. A step up from hummus.

Tasty, but tiny.

Main Dishes:

Kafta: 2 hot dog sized kabobs. I could have eaten a third one!

Grape Leaves: Small. Wouldn't rush to order them again. Would be good as an appetizer to share, though.

Cubed chicken on a stick: Succulent and flavorful. Only complaint? Not enough!

Trigo com lentilha (grains with fried onions and nuts): Best entree. But probably more like a side dish for everyone to share. Flavorful...of course, it has fried onions!

Sides: Lebanese potatoes were the big hit at the table. Again, my only complaint was that the portion was small. But the potatoes are whipped and buttery, then baked, I think. Scrumptious. The rice (arroz com Aletria) was nothing special.

Thank you, Restaurant Week, for letting me afford to try an otherwise pricey restaurant. I'm looking now for some cheap eats in the way of Middle Eastern food...I caught a glimpse of the REGULAR menu on my way out, and that meal would have cost us upwards of 75-90 Reals a person had it not been a promotion. In my opinion, not worth the can get a lot more for a lot less somewhere else. Stay tuned.

No comments:

Post a Comment