|Can You Smell That??!!??||
So after the nap after the first part of my split-shift I figure it's time for some grub. I'm always looking for new places to try and today I didn't feel like leaving downtown. After all too regular 20 minute drive searching for a new joint (Tin Cap?? close to opening - they claim "We have chefs in our kitchen, not a bar with food"... pretty big claim Bud-Row!) I was just going with something I like. Perfect parallel parking is somewhat of a gift of mine, and after I paid the meter (which is a whole blog on its own, fn 10 cent per quarter! I thought those were just going to be Super Bowl prices... oops, big game prices... bastards!) the lady came out of Ta-Ta's Cuban Cafe and chained up the walkway. Closed around 2 I reckon.
I had been to Ali Baba's Cafe once before and remember my experience to be, better. If you haven't been there it's on Market St. across from the Hilton, by Ta-Ta's. The whole thing feels quite chainy and sounds a bit hokie. The last time I was there I asked if it was a chain and the response was a surprising, "No". Let me say it's partially my fault for coming in at the end of lunch.
I walk in and ask for a table, now perhaps the server said something thoughtful like, "right this way sir", or "follow me dude" but I just saw her leave, come back and say, "your table is over there". Gee, thanks! I knew I was going to writing this so I intended to order an app and sandwich; I say, "I'll take a Cherry Coke and the small Maza platter (you know, hummus, tabouli, falafel, baba ghanouj and pita) and I'll think about what else I'm going to get". She leaves the menu and brings the Coke, all's well.
13 minutes later my lil app still isn't there, the lady beside me is looking for silverware and a first date is getting semi-awkward while 2 geeks talk loudly about computers n stuff. Don't get me wrong, love geeks, jealous of them, but check the volume... no, decibels bro! 19 minutes in and no SMALL Maza platter, no pita, no spicy gyro order taken so I do what any 10 year old would do... Chug my Cherry Coke through the straw until it gurgles over the 92 decibels of the geeks talking about how laser lights work at a concert, and the usual dislike of them. That did it! A mere 2 minutes later, 21 in, she comes to refill my beverage. "Oh, I was going to order a sandwich too. Is it too late to get the lunch special?" "Were you here before 2:30? (now 2:52) "I was, it's been a while tho" "Sure" blah blah blah.
She brings my Maza platter, the small one. It looks pretty good. It's all there and the cold food is cold and the hot food is hot. The hummus is unhumanly smooth with a sweetness that would send even Ali Baba to the kitchen looking for actual hummus ingredients AND a 5 pound white plastic tub that said, HUMMUS on it with a laundry list of ingredients. The falafel was pretty good, tastes commercial, but it was flavorful. The baba ghanouj was a little smoky and flavorful as well. The tabouli seemed fresh which is the most important quality of the dish and pita was warmed fresh. I couldn't get over the sweetness of the hummus, everything else I ate.
Side note: I received 2 olives as garnish. They were the crappy (I'm sure some people like them) black olives that most Americans buy and No Mediterraneanites would ever think of buying. Kalamata folks!
Spicy Gyro and Greek Salad is lounging on the table now. Looks pretty good and again, hot food is hot, cold food is cold. Not too spicy (like Sams, my favorite, on College across from Fresh Market) but flavorful and the salad... crisp, well dressed and flavorful.
So long story short. Food pretty good, except the hummus - although I'm sure some people absolutely love the ultra smooth texture and Indiana sweet flavor much like the High Fructose Corn Syrup Asian buffet at every mall in America. Service????? Like I said, the first time I remember it being... better. For the record, I will try Ali Baba's Cafe again.
Post Note: After leaving and, in the moment, pretty frustrated and really just ready to go home and relax before the second part of my split-shift; I notice I've been blocked in by a food delivery truck and in front of my car and freedom were two ladies with a clothes-hanger in the moon-roof of a car. They were trying to get their keys out! haha. Sorry, it was funny. I asked the guy how long he was going to be (politely bc I'm sure he gets shit daily just for doing his job, fn downtown deliveries) and he said he was just about done. He was, he left and so did I... the two ladies now had a 3rd helper, either a locksmith or someone from the Hilton.